New York – American sprinter Gil Roberts, who took gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics on the men’s 4×400 relay, won an appeal of his doping ban after a US arbitration panel agreed with his “passionate kissing” defence.

Roberts tested positive for trace amounts of probenecid, a masking agent, and was suspended for four years last May, but an arbitrator overturned the ban last July, backing Roberts’s claim that the positive test was caused by passionate kissing.

Roberts said his girlfriend, Alex Salazar, was sick and had taken sinus medication for her illness, drugs that entered his body after frequent passionate kissing.

A three-person arbitration panel sided with Roberts on Thursday in denying an appeal of his overturned ban by the World Anti-Doping Agency, with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling it most likely “the presence of probenecid in the athlete’s system resulted from kissing his girlfriend.”

“There could have been tongue kissing, but it was more that she kissed me so soon after taking the medicine,” Roberts told the New York Times.

Anti-doping officials called Roberts reckless for even the inadvertent violation, to which he told the newspaper: “How can I be negligent for kissing my girl?”

Roberts said she kept from him the fact she was sick, concerned he might not want to spend time with her if he knew.

Salazar testified in the hearing that she contracted the sinus infection on a family vacation in India and obtained antibiotics there. She also said she has an aversion to swallowing pills, prompting her to empty the contents of each capsule onto her tongue.

Roberts produced his positive urine sample about three hours after the kissing, she said.


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