Sport Court Accepts US Sprinter Was Kissing, Not Doping[1]

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) recently upheld a decision to exculpate American sprinter, Gil Roberts, for having a banned substance in his system.[2]  Roberts, a US Olympic gold-medalist sprinter, was cleared of any wrongdoing after testing positive for a banned substance, probenecid, after he pleaded that the substance passed into his system after “a passionate kissing session” with his girlfriend just hours before his urine sample was taken.[3]  After the sprinter’s girlfriend testified that she never disclosed to Roberts that she was treating a sinus infection with medicine that contained probenecid because she was unaware that the medicine contained the banned substance, the court held that Roberts met his burden of identifying the source of the substance.[4]  CAS explained, “All relevant elements in this case showed that the ingestion of probenecid was accidental . . . and, therefore, the CAS panel found no grounds to impose a period of ineligibility on the athlete.”[5]

The case was brought to CAS after the World Anti-Doping Agency challenged an American Arbitration Association (AAA) decision from July 2017, concluding that no action against Roberts was necessary due to the inadvertent ingestion of the banned substance.[6]  Arbitrators in the AAA hearing looked at other instances in which athletes had successfully defended doping claims with similar “kissing” defenses.[7]

(This summary was prepared by Ryan Corrigan, a third-year law student at the University of Missouri School of Law.)

[1]Christopher Crosby, Sport Court Accepts US Sprinter Was Kissing, Not Doping, Law 360 (Jan. 26, 2018).

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] Id.