Doping-Olympic champion Rollins banned for missing drug tests


* Rollins accepts responsibility for mistakes leading to ban

* Blames confusion over whereabouts computer program

April 20 (Reuters) - Olympic 100 metres hurdles champion Brianna Rollins was handed a one-year suspension for failing to properly file whereabouts information for out-of-competition testing, the US Anti-Doping Agency said on Thursday.

Rollins, who led an American sweep of the podium at last August's Rio Olympics, was unavailable for three doping tests during 2016, which constitutes a doping rule violation, USADA said in a statement.

The 25-year-old American did however complete eight out-of-competition tests in 2016 and did not test positive. She also passed all eight in-competition drug tests she took last year.

Rollins will keep her Olympic gold medal since USADA said her competitive results would only be annulled from Sept. 27, the date of her third whereabouts failure. She was also unavailable for tests on April 27 and Sept. 13.

The ban, retroactive to Dec. 19, means Rollins will miss the August world championships in London. She won the 100m hurdles at the 2013 world championships.

"I accept full responsibility for the mistakes that have led to my suspension, and am disappointed that I will have to miss this coming outdoor season, as a result of my confusion over how the whereabouts program worked," Rollins said in a statement.

"This is a very unpleasant experience, but I am able to see where errors were made. Understanding this will prevent any similar issues in the future, I will accept the sanction and work to prepare myself for my return in 2018."

Her management agency Stellar Athletics pointed out that Rollins had received the minimal suspension possible after a hearing before the American Arbitration Association (AAA).

"The arbitrators agreed that Brianna Rollins has never tried to evade drug testing in any way, and that at least one of her missed tests was a result of her confusion created by the computer program in which she was required to identify where she would be at all times, which resulted in her 'whereabouts' listing both her residence and a track meet at which she would be competing as her location for testing on certain days," it said.

The AAA said there was no evidence Rollins had tried to avoid being drug tested.

"It is a difficult case because it involves the imposition of a serious penalty on a brilliant athlete who is not charged or suspected of using banned substances of any kind," the AAA said. "She shows no evidence of avoiding testing, masking drug use, or using drugs." (Reporting by Steve Keating and Andrew Both; Editing by Toby Davis and Frank Pingue)

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