BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — History’s fastest 100-meter hurdler waved to the crowd, crouched into the starting block, cruised through her preliminary heat at world championships, then acted like she had no idea what all the fuss was about.
To everyone outside of Tobi Amusan’s inner circle, making it to worlds to begin defense of her title Tuesday and maybe even improve on her world record later in the week was never a sure thing.
The Nigerian hurdler’s status was in limbo until she received a favorable decision late last week in a case involving missed doping tests.
“I’m here competing and that’s all that matters. Next,” she said when asked whether the uncertainty had bothered her.
Was she planning on coming to worlds the whole time, even after she learned last month that she had been accused by regulators of an anti-doping violation for missing three tests over 12 months?
“Was I planning to come and defend my title?” she said. “Next question.”
Last year at worlds, Amusan shocked fans not so much with her world-record time of 12.12 but with when she ran it. The record came in a semifinal, when most 100-meter hurdlers are saving energy for a final later in the evening. She won the gold in a time of 12.06 that did not go into the record books because the tailwind was too strong.
Now, she is embroiled in a so-called “whereabouts” case. Because the most effective anti-doping testing comes outside of actual competitions, thousands of elite athletes must provide detailed logs of where they’ll be during parts of each day so they can be approached for the “no-notice” tests.
If an athlete isn’t where he or she says she’ll be in the log, it can count as a missed test. Three missed tests in the span of a year can result in a sanction, but there have been imperfections, loopholes and quirks in the rulebook that have allowed athletes to avoid penalties.
When Amusan went on social media to reveal her case on July 19, she said she would appeal it, and that she was “tested within days of my third ‘missed’ test.’” Last Thursday, after she won the appeal, she posted that she would not be sanctioned and “I am thrilled to put this behind me.”
But there are a handful of anti-doping regulators who might still have a say about that.
Both the World Anti-Doping Agency and the Athletics Integrity Unit, which oversees doping in track, will have a chance to review the decision, which is expected to be released Wednesday, and decide if they want to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The AIU’s chair, David Howman, said his agency would first wait to see if WADA appeals the case to CAS. If not, AIU would put the case in front of an independent panel to determine if it should make the appeal.
“We have some concern that it might set a precedent that would make it difficult for future cases,” Howman said.
The agencies have 30 days to make their decision, and if it is appealed, Amusan’s future would be in limbo with CAS for months, maybe years.
For this week, though, she is clear to race.
“I’m just thankful I’m here in Budapest and able to race, using my talent,” she said. “It has not been the best but I’m here.”