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Olympic Gold Medalist Cleared Of Doping Offence

Olympic gold medalist Gil Roberts has been cleared of a doping violation after he successfully argued that he ingested a banned substance by kissing his girlfriend.

The 28-year-old athlete failed an out-of-competition test on March 24 after he tested positive for Probenecid, a diuretic and masking agent. Roberts was a member of the United States men's 4x400 meters team that triumphed at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Last month, Roberts was cleared of the offence by the American Arbitration Association. The United States Anti-Doping Agency however has not released the final verdict. A statement from the United States Anti-Doping Agency read that the independent arbitrator following an expedited hearing in order to resolve Roberts’ case before the upcoming US National Track and Field Championships concluded that it was more likely than not that the presence of a very low concentration of Probenecid in the athlete’s sample resulted from unintentional ingestion and occurred without the fault or negligence of Roberts. It was also said that Roberts as a result will not face a period of ineligibility for his positive test, and because the sample was collected out-of-competition, no competitive results will be disqualified.

It was claimed by the sprinter that his girlfriend Alex Salazar had been taking medication which she bought in India for a sinus infection that contained Probenecid. Roberts also said he was unaware that the substance could be passed to him while kissing his girlfriend.

The AAA panel was persuaded that the medicine used by the girlfriend of Roberts contained Probenecid that is not water soluble and binds to protein. It was stated by the AAA that everyday some of the Probenecid poured into her mouth stayed in her oral cavity binding to her tongue, gums, cheeks, etc. It was also said that Salazar started visiting Roberts starting after she arrived back in the United States on March 17, 2017 and whenever they were together they kissed frequently and passionately. The AAA also said the arbitrator is persuaded by the testimony of Dr. Kintz that bits of the Probenecid that remained in her mouth after she took her medicine could and did move to his mouth through their frequent passionate kissing. It was also deemed by the panel that the amount of Probenecid in the sample of Roberts was too small to have had a masking effect and therefore the athlete was cleared and deemed to be "without fault".

This means Roberts would now be able to compete at the USA Track and Field National Championships in Sacramento that serves as the trials for this summer's World Athletics Championships in London. The athlete is set to represent the US at the event at the Olympic Stadium that runs from August 4 to 13, as he qualified in the 400m.

In a similar case last year, world pole vault champion Shawn Barber was cleared of a positive test for cocaine. It was disclosed that the positive test was triggered and had been inadvertently caused through an encounter with a woman he met on personals site Craigslist. The world pole vault champion was selected for doping control after competing at the Canadian Championships and testers found the presence of cocaine metabolite Benzoylecgonine. Barber successfully argued the substance was ingested inadvertently.

In 2009, French tennis player Richard Gasquet also successfully argued that a positive test for cocaine had been because of kissing that saw him cleared.

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Albert Wolfgang
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