Shaunae Miller-Uibo

FLASHBACK: Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller-Uibo crosses the finish line to win the Women 200 metres during the IAAF Diamond League competition on August 29, 2019, in Zurich, Switzerland. —Photo: AFP

The North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Athletes Commission has thrown its support behind reigning Olympic women’s 400 metres champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo.

“Having thoroughly examined the circumstances that led to the recent comments of Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas, on the recent ruling of the Athletes Integrity Unit (AIU) of the international governing body of the sport of athletics on the exoneration of athlete, Salwa Eid Naser, the NACAC Athletes Commission wishes to state its support for our athlete.”

The Commission, chaired by St Vincent and the Grenadines athlete Kineke Alexander, declared its position in an official press release, yesterday.

Trinidad and Tobago lawyers, Dr Emir Crowne and Matthew Gayle and their Jamaican colleague Kristie Irving succeeded in having the whereabouts failures anti-doping charge against Naser dismissed. After three missed tests in 2019 and a fourth one in January 2020, the Bahraini athlete was provisionally suspended.

Three missed tests within a 12-month period constitute an anti-doping violation. The third of Naser’s three missed tests occurred on April 12, 2019. Almost six months later, the Nigerian-born quartermiler won the 400m world title in Doha, Qatar, clocking the third fastest time in history—48.14 seconds—to force Miller-Uibo into second spot. Naser was provisionally suspended in June, this year.

Naser was cleared last month, after the UK-based dispute resolution organisation, Sport Resolutions determined that the Doping Control Officer (DCO) knocked on the wrong door on April 12, last year. In response to the decision, Miller-Uibo expressed her concerns on social media.

“Why in this case was the athlete not provisionally suspended until a year and two months later? What took them so long to make this information public? How is it possible that this case lingered on until World Championships, which was in October 2019 and not once were the athletes informed, or the athlete in question provisionally suspended like others that were in the same position?”

The NACAC Athletes Commission is supporting the Bahamian quartermiler.

“We are mindful that in the case of Salwa Eid Naser, the terms of the delays in the charges being brought sometimes happens because the Anti-Doping Organisations with results management responsibility need to be thorough in their investigations before alleging the commission of an Anti-Doping Rule Violation.

“Nevertheless,” the press release continued, “our Athletes Commission nonetheless feels that many of the concerns raised by Mrs. Uibo are valid and require the urgent attention of World Athletics if it is to sustain the confidence of athletes in the system and ultimately, in the sport.”

The NACAC Athletes Commission is appealing for equality.

“Athletes are required and are held accountable for their actions and rightfully so. However, many are convinced that the process is inconsistent. The process is not at all uniform across the globe to such an extent that many are of the view that some athletes will always get the benefit of the doubt given the perceived inconsistencies.

“There has to be greater accountability on the part of athletes regarding whereabouts filings. The process applied in dealing with whereabouts failures could be more explicitly outlined. Rather than having the option to provide explanatory notes, this should be a requirement. Inconsistency in the application of rules, regulations and laws is one of the most frustrating things for athletes.”

The NACAC Athletes Commission press release also addressed the issue of recourse.

“Of some concern is the matter of the options available to athletes who are aggrieved with the operations and/or decisions of the Athletes Integrity Unit (AIU). To whom can the athletes turn in such instances?

“We, therefore, understand Shaunae’s advocacy as we do her right to speak out on matters deemed pertinent to the cause of all athletes. Regular dialogue is critical in this process. We insist that we are all accountable,” the press release ended, “regardless of where we are located in the sport’s global structure.”

The NACAC Athletes Commission has ten members—Alexander, Jamaicans Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Michael Frater and O’Dayne Richards, American Jeff Porter, El Salvador’s Nathan Rivera, Caymanians Lacee Barnes and Cydonie Mothersill, Guatemala’s Allan Ayala Acevedo, and Bermuda’s Brian Wellman.

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