: Newsday : Jelani Beckles : 03.04.2023
TT jumper Tyra Gittens is ready to bounce back from an inadvertent doping violation which cost her six months of competition.
In an Instagram post on Monday, Gittens said she incurred the ban after her therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medication was not approved in time for the 2022 World Championships last July.
As a result, Gittens tested positive for methylphenidate, which is on the banned list of drugs.
Gittens wrote, "Even though I have taken the same medication for years and had the same TUE for the Tokyo Olympics, I did not complete the application correctly."
In a statement on Monday, the AIU said it "accepts that the athlete had not realised that her previous TUE had expired by the time of the TTO Sample collected on 26 June 2022 (at the National Championships), supported by her disclosure on the DCF (doping-control form), and therefore inadvertently continued to use her medication without a valid TUE.
She was not advised that the TTO sample was positive for methylphenidate, or that her TUE had expired for this purpose, until November 2022, after the sample collected from her at the World Championships on 23 July 2022.
Gittens's ban ended a week ago.
"To put this behind me, my team and I accepted a six-month suspension backdated to September 26...I can proceed with my season," Gittens said.
Apart from the ban, the 2020 Olympian said she has also had to cope with the loss of three family members within the last 18 months.
One of her grandmothers died owing to diabetes complications, she lost an aunt to breast cancer and her other grandmother also passed away. Gittens said, "Losing those amazing women was extremely heartbreaking. They were fighters and even though it was tough moving on, their stories motivated me to continue my fight as well."
Gittens said the rough times taught her life lessons.
"During that time I learned so much more about myself, my priorities and my goals. I am a different woman because of last year's trials and tribulations. It has made me stronger, more trusting of myself, happier, and more at peace with my reality. I'm so thankful for the people who were behind me during this extremely lonely time in my life. Now it's time to get back to work and continue my journey of turning my dreams into reality."
On Saturday, Gittens finished fifth in the women's long jump with a 6.38-metre effort at the Texas Relays held at the Mike A Myers Stadium in Austin, Texas.
National Association of Athletics Administrations general secretary Dexter Voisin said that ensuring an athlete's TUE is valid is the responsibility of the athlete.
He said, "It is not the NAAA's (responsibility). Whether it is her or her management, that is a different question...but just as any other athlete with regards to adhering to the requirements as it pertains to the AIU, for example whereabouts forms, requesting TUE exemptions and stuff that is a personal responsibility."
Voisin is happy Gittens has already put the ban behind her. "She would have competed recently with a good performance; so if I am to judge from that, clearly she would have already put that behind her back.
"Nobody wants to have that against their name - being suspended. Athletes have different things that could cause suspension, but certainly where that is concerned, where it is an administrative mishap, I don't think the athlete will take that as hard as if it was for example a positive test for a banned substance."