Jamaican quarter-miler Christopher Taylor has been charged by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) for violating the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) Anti-Doping Code Article 2.3, after a six-month investigation determined that the 23-year-old evaded a doping test in November 2022.
According to well-placed sources, the AIU has already notified all relevant parties including the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association and the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission.
WADA Anti-Doping Code Article 2.3 states: "Evading, Refusing or Failing to Submit to Sample Collection. The Evading Sample collection, or without compelling justification, refusing or failing to submit to Sample collection after notification as authorised in applicable anti-doping rules."
Taylor now risks a minimum two-year ban from the sport according to World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Anti-Doping Rule 10.3.1.
"For violations of Article 2.3 or Article 2.5, the period of Ineligibility shall be four years unless, in the case of failing to submit to Sample collection, the Athlete can establish that the commission of the anti-doping rule violation was not intentional (as defined in Article 10.2.3), in which case the period of Ineligibility shall be two years," the rule states.
Taylor, the Olympic and World Championships finalist, has not competed since August 30, 2022, and is now set to miss the World Athletics Championships, with the National Senior Championship set for July 6-9.
Highly-regarded sports attorney Paul Greene, who has been representing Taylor, explained the situation to the Jamaica Observer several weeks ago after the athlete was interviewed by anti-doping officials earlier this year.
According to our information, Taylor was contacted in November 2022 by anti-doping officials who had turned up to conduct a test at the location that he had indicated on his whereabouts form.
However, when the officials arrived, Taylor was not at the listed location, had not updated his whereabouts information, and was instead at the Norman Manley International Airport, waiting to catch a flight that had previously been booked on his behalf.
Athletes who are a part of the registered testing pool are required to provide certain information, which is used by anti-doping organisations to locate athletes for out-of-competition testing.
The information includes home address and contact information, overnight accommodations information in cases when they are away from home, training, work, school, and competition schedules and locations as well as a one-hour time slot for each day when they will be available for testing.
If an athlete is not where they say they would be at this particular point when anti-doping officials turn up for testing, that can count as a missed test. Critically, while a first or second offence does not carry any penalty, if an athlete misses three tests during a 12-month period, that constitutes a 'Whereabouts Violation' which results in an automatic period of ineligibility for the athlete.
However, if an athlete is deemed to have violated WADA Anti-Doping Code Article 2.3 which speaks to "Evading, Refusing or Failing to Submit to Sample Collection", a two or four-year ban is mandatory.
The differentiation between a simple 'missed test' and a charge of evading, refusing or failing to submit to sample collection, centres around contact and arrangements being made between the DCO and athlete for the facilitation of testing which are then not honoured.
"It surrounds a test where he was there the whole time. There's no issue about that. He didn't try to evade them or anything. As best as I can understand and explain, it was a misunderstanding between Chris and the DCO (Doping Control Officer) at the airport, where Chris understood that it was going to be a missed test (because) he had to leave to take a flight and he left thinking it was a missed test."
"The DCO went back, and I'm not sure what the DCO said to AIU, but at some point, they said, this might be evasion or failure to collect. Or it might just be a missed test. We're not really sure," Greene said earlier.
Prior to the notification, the attorney admitted that there are some grey areas as far as the interpretation of the rules differentiating a whereabouts failure from an Article 2.3 evasion violation is concerned, meaning the athlete could face no penalty or be slapped with a multiple-year suspension.
"(If it's a) whereabouts violation in which case nothing would happen to him because (it's just one missed test in a 12-month period), and if it's evasion, I mean, in my experience with these cases, the difference between whereabouts and evasion or failure - it's not even evasion, it could just be a negligent failure to collect; It could be a two-year violation. So really it could be nothing, it could be a whereabouts failure, (and) it could be a two-year charge or a four-year charge. I mean, there are various possible things they could do but the line between charging someone with negligent failure to collect, meaning that they messed it up even if they weren't trying to evade but somehow they didn't understand and they left before they should have, as compared to a missed test, is not a clear line," Greene told the Jamaica Observer.
Taylor, who ended the 2021 and 2022 seasons as the fastest Jamaican in the 400m, made the final of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, finishing sixth with a time of 44.79 seconds, and returned to the medal round last year at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, this time running seventh in 45.30.
Greene could not be reached for additional comment up to publication time.