Salwa Eid Naser was already being investigated for missing doping tests when she raced to an upset win in the 400 meters at the world track and field championships.
The Athletics Integrity Unit confirmed Sunday that Naser was already under scrutiny for three “whereabouts failures” prior to her world championship win in Doha in October.
That means that Naser could be stripped of her gold medal if she's found guilty. She also faces missing next year's Olympics in Tokyo.
The Nigeria-born sprinter, who represents Bahrain, surged past Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo to win in 48.14 seconds, the fastest time since 1985.
The AIU, which oversees drug testing and disciplinary cases in track, said Sunday that Naser had already been under investigation at the time, and that she racked up a fourth whereabouts failure in January.
AIU records show she wasn't charged and provisionally suspended until this week. The AIU statement didn't explain the reason for the delay.
Naser said in an Instagram Live video on Friday that she was not a cheat and that missing three drugs tests before the world championships "is normal” and “can happen to anybody,” according to an account of her broadcast published by NBC.
Athletes are required to provide regular updates on their whereabouts to make it possible for anti-doping authorities to carry out surprise testing outside of competition. A violation means an athlete either did not fill out forms telling authorities where he or she could be found, or that athletes weren’t where they said they would be when testers arrived.
Three violations within 12 months can lead to a suspension if the athletes can’t justify why they weren’t available for testing.
The provisional suspension is the latest in a series of cases against Bahrain’s elite squad of female runners originally from African countries. Olympic steeplechase champion Ruth Jebet was banned for four years in March for EPO and Olympic marathon runner-up Eunice Kirwa picked up a four-year ban last year.
More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports