McNeal appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which upheld the ban, backdated to August 2020. That means McNeal also will be barred from competing in the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
The decision came hours after McNeal told the New York Times that she missed a drug test in January 2020 because she was in bed recovering from an abortion that she had two days earlier and did not hear anti-doping officials arrive at her home in California. McNeal has not been accused of doping, but several discrepancies in documentation to prove she had an abortion led to her ban, according to the report.
In a statement posted on Instagram on Friday, McNeal said she had sat through hearings for her case in April and June “and listened to white European men tell me how my experience doesn’t match with their perspective.”
“Should my career pretty much be over because I had the date of my abortion wrong by 24 hours? The event did happen: it was 100% the reason why I missed the test. I was physically and emotionally drained that entire weekend,” she wrote, adding: “I have been tested no less than 70 times, including three days after this missed test (and at the Olympic Trials) and have never tested positive.”
The five-year ban is longer than most track doping punishments because McNeal has violated rules before. After leading Team USA to a sweep of the hurdles in Rio, she was banned by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for a year after missing three random drug tests in 2016. That caused her to miss the 2017 world championships.
While her appeal was pending, McNeal was allowed to compete in last month’s U.S. Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore. She finished second in the 100-meter hurdles final behind winner Keni Harrison and ahead of third-place finisher Christina Clemons.
The ban of McNeal means Gabbi Cunningham, who finished fourth, probably will take the third spot on the team alongside Harrison and Clemons in Tokyo. The final roster is expected to be announced by USA Track & Field next week.