Salwa Eid Naser, who ran the third-fastest 400m in history at last year’s world championships in Doha, has made the extraordinary claim that missing three drugs tests in a 12-month period “is normal” after she was provisionally suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit.
“I’ve never been a cheat. I will never be,” said the 22-year-old Bahraini in an Instagram live video. “I only missed three drug tests, which is normal. It happens. It can happen to anybody. I don’t want people to get confused in all this because I would never cheat.”
Naser, who is facing a two-year ban, also claimed her missed tests came before she ran 48.14 seconds in Doha to claim a surprise gold medal, beating the Olympic champion, Shaunae Miller-Uibo. “This year I have not been drug tested,” she said. “We are still talking about the ones of last season before the world championships.” Naser’s time was the fastest in 34 years, with only the East German Marita Koch, in 1985, and the Czech athlete Jarmila Kratochvilova, in 1983, having run faster.
Although neither of those women failed a drug test, their times are regarded as suspicious given drug-taking in eastern Europe was systemic and state-sponsored during the 70s and 80s.
Naser, who moved from Nigeria to Bahrain when she was 14, won a silver medal over 400m at the 2017 world championships in London and is a former world youth champion.
“Hopefully, it’ll get resolved because I don’t really like the image, but it has happened,” said Naser. “It’s going to be fine. It’s very hard to have this little stain on my name. I would never take performance-enhancing drugs,” she added. “I believe in talent, and I know I have the talent.”
There have been three other major doping cases among Bahrain’s top female runners in recent years, including the Olympic steeplechase champion, Ruth Jebet, and the Olympic marathon runner-up, Eunice Kirwa, who tested positive for EPO, and the world indoor 400 champion, Kemi Adekoya, who was found to have taken anabolic steroids. All were banned for four years.