U.S. Anti-Doping Agency Bans Olympic Silver Medalist Raven Saunders for 18 Months

An Olympic medalist from the United States has been suspended from competing for 18 months.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced today that Raven Saunders, a track and field competitor from Tuscaloosa, AL, has accepted an 18-month suspension after she committed three Whereabouts Failures within 12 months.

On the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency website, it explained what Whereabouts are:

“An important part of USADA’s testing program is the ability to test athletes without any advance notice in an out-of-competition setting. To maximize testing resources and minimize the burden on athletes, USADA has created a Registered Testing Pool (RTP) and a Clean Athlete Program (CAP). Athletes in the RTP and CAP are subject to different Whereabouts requirements and compliance criteria.”

At the time of the Whereabouts Failures, the 26-year-old Saunders was a member of the USADA Registered Testing Pool (RTP). This is a select group of elite athletes who are subjected to particular Whereabouts requirements in order to be located for out-of-competition testing. Saunders had accrued three Whereabouts Failures within a 12-month period.

The first one was recorded on January 8, 2022, the second later that year on May 26, 2022, and the third one fell on August 15, 2022.

The rules stipulate that obtaining three Whereabouts Failures within a 12-month period is a rule violation under the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee National Anti-Doping Policy, and the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules. All of those organizations have adopted the World Anti-Doping Code.

Her 18-month ban is retroactive to August 15, 2022, which is the third time she got her third Whereabouts Failure. Any achievements from that date until the present time count as disqualifications. This means any victories, medals, points, and prizes won during that period will also be forfeited.

Sanders acknowledged her ban with a Twitter post.

“As a veteran I definitely should’ve done better and I take full responsibility for my actions. I didn’t fail a test for any substance and was tested again after each of my missed test. I’ve always been an advocate of clean sport. I’ll be back to claim the throne Feb 15th 2024!”