NEW YORK (Reuters) - Doping charges against U.S. sprinter LaTasha Jenkins have been dismissed because two European laboratories did not follow the correct procedures in testing her sample, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) said on Thursday.
The decision marks the first time an athlete has won an arbitration appeal of a doping charge brought by USADA, according to a media release by Valparaiso University Sports Law Clinic, whose director represented Jenkins in the case.
The laboratories, in Gent, Belgium, and Cologne, Germany, violated a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) standard requiring tests be run by two different technicians, the news release said.
A three-member panel from the American Arbitration Association/North American Court of Arbitration for Sport (AAA/CAS) therefore set aside the results from Jenkins’s urine sample, which was collected at a meeting in Belgium in 2006.
“USADA has not demonstrated to the panel’s comfortable satisfaction that this violation did not cause Ms. Jenkins’ adverse analytical finding,” the panel wrote.
The decision clears Jenkins, a 2001 world indoor and outdoor medalist at 200 meters, to return to competition.
“It’s a good day for athletes,” Michael Straubel, director of the Sports Law Clinic, said in a statement.
“The (arbitration) panel acknowledged that an allegation of doping is a serious matter which profoundly affects an athlete, and laboratories therefore must ensure the highest scientific reliability of the testing process.”
Writing by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina; Editing by Greg Stutchbury