'Should have known': Sprinter cops stunning Olympics ban

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Deajah Stevens, pictured here in action at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Deajah Stevens in action at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

American sprinter Deajah Stevens has been banned for 18 months for missing anti-doping tests.

The 25-year-old, who reached the 2016 Rio Olympics 200m final, will be ineligible for next year's Tokyo Games, the Athletics Integrity Unit said on Thursday.

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The ban handed down to Stevens, who won the US 200m title a year after finishing seventh in the Olympics final, has been backdated to begin on February 17 and will expire at midnight on August 16, 2021.

That is eight days after the Tokyo Olympics conclude.

The three missed tests came in February, August and November of 2019, according to the ruling from Stevens' disciplinary hearing.

The ruling said that on the first occasion, the doping control officer could not reach the American's specified location due to restricted access at the given address in Oregon and attempts to reach her by phone were unsuccessful.

For the early-morning August 2019 test in West Hollywood, Stevens claims her phone had run out of battery overnight and she only saw the five missed calls when she woke up.

Three knocks on her door over a 22-minute span went unanswered.

On the final missed test, Stevens said she was at her residence during the 60-minute window but had changed her phone number to avoid harassment by an unknown individual who had threatened her fiance's life.

According to the doping control officer, access to the building on the final visit was restricted as Steven's name was not on the building directory, which the sprinter said she requested due to the claims of harassment.

Deajah Stevens, pictured here competing at the 2017 World Athletics Championships in London.
Deajah Stevens (centre) competing at the 2017 World Athletics Championships in London. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Integrity Unit dismisses Stevens’ excuses

“Despite our sympathy for the athlete, we have not been satisfied on a balance of probability that her behaviour was not negligent,” the disciplinary panel said.

“She should have been on red alert and conscious that she could not miss the next one.”

The tribunal did take account of “distress, fear and distraction caused by the harassment she experienced” and took six months off the potential two-year ban for a first offence.

Stevens, who was represented by one of sports' top lawyers for doping cases, Howard Jacobs, can appeal against the ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

She was the 2017 national champion over 200 and a former NCAA champion in the 4x400 relay running for the University of Oregon.

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with agencies