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Three athletes suspended for doping test whereabouts failures

Kenyan distance runner Alex Korio and American sprinters Gabrielle Thomas and Deajah Stevens have all been provisionally suspended after missing three tests each

The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) announced three provisional suspensions on Friday, all of which were due to whereabouts failures. The suspended athletes are Alex Korio, a distance runner from Kenya, and U.S. sprinters Gabrielle Thomas and Deajah Stevens. Athletes who accrue three whereabouts failures in a 12-month span are issued a suspension and can be banned for competition for up to two years.

What are whereabouts failures?

According to the AIU website, whereabouts failures come in two forms: filing failures and missed tests. Under World Athletics anti-doping rules, athletes must submit whereabouts forms to and keep testers updated so they can be found for drug tests.

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If an athlete doesn’t submit these forms on time or doesn’t update their whereabouts if circumstances change, they will be issued a filing failure. Filing failures are also given when forms are incomplete or filled out inaccurately. As for missed tests, it’s pretty simple: if an athlete isn’t where they said they’d be and miss a test because of it, it’s another strike. Three whereabouts failures in 12 months and the athlete is provisionally suspended.

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Who is Alex Korio?

Korio was one of Eliud Kipchoge‘s pacers in the INEOS 1:59 Challenge in Vienna last October. He has a half-marathon PB of 58:51 which he ran in Copenhagen in 2017, and it is the 17th fastest half-marathon time in history. His 10,000m PB is 27:28.74 from last year’s world championships in Doha, where he finished 11th. He raced once in 2020, in Valencia, Spain—the same race where Rhonex Kipruto set a new 10K world record. Korio finished eighth in Valencia in 27:53.

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Stevens and Thomas

Both Stevens and Thomas are 200m specialists. Stevens has a PB of 22.09, and finished seventh in the women’s 200m at the Rio Olympics in 2016. She also ran to a NCAA silver medal earlier in 2016 as a member of the University of Oregon track team. In 2017, she represented the U.S. at the world championships in London, where she bettered her result from Rio a year before, placing fifth in the 200m.

Thomas ran for Harvard and won multiple national collegiate medals in the 200m, including the 2018 NCAA Indoor Championships gold, when she ran the current collegiate indoor record of 22.38. She has a PB in the 200m of 22.19 from 2018. Thomas’s agent released a statement on her behalf in response to her suspension, saying she believes “at least one of these missed tests is not valid” and that she is sure she will be cleared of the doping charge.