Raven Saunders gets 18-month suspension for missed doping test

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Raven Saunders, the silver medal-winning U.S. shot putter who used her Tokyo Olympics triumph to draw attention to social injustice, has been suspended for 18 months for failing to present themselves for doping tests.

The US Anti-Doping Agency announced the penalty on Wednesday for the 26-year-old, saying she committed three “whereabouts failures” in a 12-month period ending August 15. She will miss the world championships this year, but would be eligible for the Paris Olympics next year.

Saunders often encounters brightly colored hair and wears an “Incredible Hulk” mask. At the end of the medal ceremony at the 2021 Olympics, she stepped down from the podium and formed an “X” with her wrists. She explained that the “X” stands for “the intersection of where all oppressed people meet”.

Saunders has been candid about growing up in poverty and his bouts of depression. She went to the University of Mississippi, is a four-time NCAA champion and won the USA Track and Field’s Humanitarian Award in 2021.

Saunders joins a growing list of top athletes who have been banned for missed tests, including world champion sprinters Christian Coleman and Salwa Eid Naser. Although a series of missed tests can result in bans, they are not considered proof that an athlete has used banned substances.

Saunders finished fourth at the US national championships last year and did not qualify for the world championships. Shortly after, she announced she was taking the remainder of 2022 off. This happened about a month before her last failed test. The other two were in January and May.


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