Reigning 400 metres world champion Salwa Eid Naser has been cleared by the UK-based dispute resolution organisation, Sport Resolutions.
In what has been described as "a coup" by a senior lawyer who preferred to remain anonymous, a legal team featuring Trinidad and Tobago's Dr Emir Crowne and Matthew Gayle and Jamaican Kristie Irving succeeded in having the whereabouts failures anti-doping charge against the Bahraini quartermiler dismissed.
Naser, who had three missed tests in 2019 and a fourth one in January this year, had been provisionally suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU). Three missed tests within a 12-month period constitute an anti-doping violation.
However, the three-member Sport Resolutions panel, chaired by Queen's Counsel Charles Hollander, determined that "the alleged April 12, 2019, Missed Test cannot be confirmed against the Athlete". As a result, the charge against Nigerian-born Naser was dismissed.
In an interview with the Express, yesterday, Gayle explained what happened on April 12, last year.
"Quite often the facts are not quite as simple as presented in the media. The fact is that the Doping Control Officer (DCO) was knocking on a cupboard door and not Salwa's apartment door. By highlighting the true nature of the evidence, we were able to shed light on what really happened. The DCO did not discharge his duty."
Naser's winning time at the 2019 World Championships, 48.14 seconds is the third fastest in history. She is just 22, and seems set to be a headline-grabber for many years to come.
"It's always a great honour to have even a small part to play in such an impressive athlete's growth," said Gayle. "The real shining star is Salwa. She's absolutely overjoyed. It was her position all along that on that day she was home and available for testing. And that's what the tribunal found. On the evidence presented, the tribunal clearly took a view that the athlete was not trying to hide.
"Salwa has been operating as a very high level athlete for a long time, so it's easy to forget just how young she is. She has learnt a lot from the experience, and no doubt will be taking the necessary steps to avoid a future occurrence."
The hearing was conducted via videoconference on October 6. The decision was handed down last Wednesday, and officially made public yesterday.