Another promising Arab Olympian has been ruled out of the Rio 2016 Olympics due to doping.
After Egypt’s Ihab Abdelrahman, the limelight has been directed to Saudi Arabia’s Yousef Ahmad Masrahi, holder of the Asian 400-meter record. A urine sample taken from Masrahi during a training camp in June was proven to contain prohibited substances, pushing the Saudi Olympic Committee to ban him from the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Doping was confirmed after the analysis of Masrahi’s B sample proved compatible with that of his A sample, which had been tested in a WADA-accredited laboratory in the United States.
Masrahi – who denied taking any prohibited substances – has thus been suspended and his penalty will be decided by the World Anti-Doping Agency based on a hearing that will take place in Saudi’s National Anti-Doping Organization on August 7.
"So as to maintain the principle of transparency and commit to the anti-doping code and ethical principles, and in support of the international efforts contributing to the fight against doping, the executive board of the Saudi Athletics Federation has decided to suspend national athlete Yousef Ahmad Masrahi based on the recommendation of the National Anti-Doping Organization,” the national athletics federation said in a statement .
“The executive board is sorry to announce such a violation and assures everyone that the federation is committed to battling doping as part of the Saudi Olympic Committee’s public policy.”
The federation noted the harm doping violations inflict on Saudi athletics and concluded its statement by saying that Masrahi had undergone more than fifty doping tests over the years, none of which returned positive findings.
The Asian champion had qualified to his second Olympic Games in Rio with the fifth-best qualifying period (43.93 seconds) among the male athletes headed to the 400 meter race. The kingdom has therefore lost one of its strongest contenders for a medal in the 2016 Olympics and will have to rely on its seven athletes, two judo competitors, a fencer, a shooter and a weightlifter to fight for Saudi’s fourth Olympic medal.