9th July 2021

Ecuadorian blames staff for ‘whereabouts’ failures that could keep him out of Tokyo 2020

Alex Quiñónez, who has qualified to represent Ecuador at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, has been provisionally suspended for ‘whereabouts’ failures, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) of World Athletics announced. The sprinter has become the fourth athlete in recent months to blame staff for failing to fulfil their ‘whereabouts’ requirements.

‘I will proceed to defend my rights before international sports organisations’, said the sprinter in a statement posted on Instagram (below). ‘In simple terms, it is a problem derived from an error in updating the location data uploaded to the ADAMS platform – of a very short duration – committed by the person to whom I delegated said work. In no case has anybody said that the failed location data meant a refusal or evasion to submit to doping controls […] I trust that justice will be done, and a sanction will not be applied that prevents my participation in the Olympic Games.’ 

Under the World Anti-Doping Code, athletes that are members of a Registered Testing Pool (RTP) must file information including their overnight location, competition and training schedules as well as a location where they will be available for testing for one hour in every 24, three months in advance (although this can later be amended) through the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA’s) Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (ADAMS). If they are not where they say they will be, that constitutes a ‘missed test’. If the filed information is judged to be inaccurate or incomplete, that constitutes a ‘filing failure’. Any combination of three missed tests and/or filing failures is equivalent to an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) subject to a two year ban. 

Quiñónez isn’t the first athlete to have delegated management of his ‘whereabouts’ filings to an agent. South African Luvo Manyonga blamed his agent for failing to update his ‘whereabouts’; Wilson Kipsang argued that his Manager was responsible for updating his ‘whereabouts’; Salwa Eid Naser struggled with updating her ‘whereabouts’ and was assigned a Technical Manager to complete them for her, eventually resulting in a two year ban.

As the Christian Coleman case outlined, there is another way. Athletes would support the use of GPS tracking technology, which is already utilised by applications used by most athletes, such as Strava. This would reduce the minute scrutiny of who is telling the truth and who isn’t that seems to characterise ‘whereabouts’ cases. WADA had the opportunity to use such technology, but used misplaced privacy concerns as an excuse to reject it. 

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