World Record Holder Tobi Amusan Is Latest UTEP Alum to Be Suspended For Violating Track & Field’s Doping Rules

The track world was rocked on Tuesday night when Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan, the world record holder and reigning world champion in the women’s 100-meter hurdles, announced on Instagram that she had been charged by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) with a whereabouts violation for three missed drug tests. The AIU confirmed the charge on Wednesday, meaning Amusan is provisionally suspended with immediate effect, just one month out from the World Championships, which begin in Budapest on August 19.

Amusan, 26, did not say when the missed tests occured. She had been competing as normal prior to her suspension — Amusan won the Silesia Diamond League in Poland on Sunday in 12.34, the #2 time in the world this year, and followed that up with a win at the Gyulai István Memorial in Hungary on Tuesday, just hours before announcing her suspension. Amusan is appealing the suspension and said her case will be decided by a tribunal of three arbitrators before the World Championships begin.

Article continues below player.

“I am a CLEAN athlete, and I am regularly; (maybe more than the usual) tested by the AIU — I was tested within days of my third ‘missed test,'” Amusan wrote in her Instagram post. “I have FAITH that this will be resolved in my favor and that I will be competing at the World Championships in August.”

If Amusan’s suspension is upheld, she faces a two-year ban, which can be reduced to one year depending on the athlete’s degree of fault.

Kevin Morris photo

Amusan is the latest in a string of high-profile athletes to be suspended for whereabouts failures in recent years. In 2017, Olympic 100m hurdles champion Brianna McNeal was banned 12 months for whereabouts failures. In 2020, world champions Christian Coleman (100m), Salwa Eid Naser (400m), and Elijah Manangoi (1500m) and former marathon world record holder Wilson Kipsang were all suspended for whereabouts failures. That year US sprinter Gabby Thomas was also provisionally suspended but her suspension was later overturned after “new evidence” was presented.

LRC 2020 Has Been the Year of Whereabouts Failures. Why?

Last year, Americans Garrett Scantling (4th in the 2021 Olympic decathlon) and Randolph Ross (2021/2022 NCAA 400m champion) were both banned two years for whereabouts failures and an additional year for trying to cover up their mistake. In March of this year, Olympic shot put silver medalist Raven Saunders was banned 18 months for whereabouts failures.

Amusan is the third prominent UTEP athlete to have been suspended in the last two years

Amusan, a native of Nigeria, competed collegiately for the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) from 2016-17, winning the NCAA 100m hurdles title in 2017. As a professional, she finished 4th in the 2019 world and 2021 Olympic finals before reaching a new level in 2022, lowering her pb from 12.42 to 12.12 — a shocking performance that saw Amusan smash Keni Harrison‘s 12.20 world record in the World Championship semifinals. Amusan ran even faster in the final later that day — 12.06, the fastest all-conditions time ever — but the latter effort was not ratified as a world record due to a +2.5 m/s tailwind. Amusan also won Diamond League titles in the 100m hurdles in 2021 and 2022.

Amusan is the third high-profile UTEP alum to have been suspended in the last two years. In 2021, Nigerian sprinter/jumper Blessing Okagbare, who competed for UTEP from 2008-10, was suspended after failing drug tests for EPO and HGH. Last year, the AIU handed Okagbare a 10-year ban and it was revealed that Okagbare had received performance-enhancing drugs from former UTEP sprinter Eric Lira. Lira was the first person charged Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act (RADA), which allows the US government to prosecute individuals involved in doping schemes affecting international events involving American athletes. He pled guilty in May and faces up to 10 years in prison.

In February 2023, another Nigerian sprinter, Divine Oduduru (the 2019 NCAA 100/200 champion for Texas Tech) was also provisionally suspended in connection with the Lira case. Amusan’s case differs from Okagbare and Oduduru’s in that she has not been charged with possessing or using performance-enhancing drugs, but it is notable in that all three were among Nigeria’s top athletes. Nigeria is one of seven countries listed in Category A by the AIU — the federations at the highest risk of doping. The others are Kenya, Ethiopia, Belarus, Bahrain, Morocco, and Ukraine.

In addition, last year, Michael Saruni — a 2021 Olympian for Kenya who was teammates with Amusan at UTEP in 2017 and set the collegiate record for 800 meters in 2018 — was provisionally suspended by the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya for “evading, refusing, or failing to submit to sample collection.” Saruni also shares an agent with Amusan, Kimberly Holland. LetsRun has made repeated unsuccessful attempts to receive an update on Saruni’s situation from Holland. On Wednesday, we reached out to Holland yet again for an update on Saruni and Amusan but didn’t hear back.

Discuss this story on the LetsRun messageboard: MB 100H WR holder Tobi Amusan says she is being charged with whereabouts violations
*Former NC A&T sprinter Grace Nwokocha says Tobi Amsuan’s suspension is because people are trying to bring “Africans down”

For more on how the whereabouts system works, check out our previous coverage:

LRC How Does the Whereabouts System Work for a Professional Athlete? We Asked Jenny Simpson to Explain It
LRC 2020 Has Been the Year of Whereabouts Failures. Why?

Want More? Join The Supporters Club Today
Support independent journalism and get:
  • Exclusive Access to VIP Supporters Club Content
  • Bonus Podcasts Every Friday
  • Free Shirt (Annual Subscribers)
  • Exclusive Discounts
  • Enhanced Message Boards