Olympic medalist Raven Saunders receives 18-month ban

Raven Saunders has been open about her struggles with mental health and was one of the breakout track and field stars of the Tokyo Games.

Raven Saunders in a file photo (Image Credits - World Athletics)
By Abhiruchi Rout | Mar 16, 2023 | 2 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

Raven Saunders, the 26-year-old Olympic shot put silver medalist, has accepted an 18-month ban until February 2024 for drug-testing whereabouts failures. A statement was recently released from her representative which stated the same. The ban is due to Saunders missing three drug tests and/or filing failures within a 12-month period. This is a violation of the administrative policy regarding updating her whereabouts. This could include incorrect filing of forms or failing to submit quarterly forms. The statement also clarified that Saunders has never tested positive for any banned substances or performance-enhancing drugs.

Saunders has taken full responsibility for her failures. She further stated that she will use the time during her suspension to focus on her mental health. In addition, she will also intensify her training in preparation for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Although she will miss this year’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships and world championships, she remains eligible for the next Olympics in 2024.

Read more: What is the entire Peter Bol doping scenario?

Saunders being vocal about struggling with mental health

Raven Saunders has been open about her struggles with mental health and was one of the breakout track and field stars of the Tokyo Games. Her iconic gesture of crossing her arms above her head to form an “X” was meant to bring the world together for all people who have felt left behind or loved less. However, two days after the final, Saunders got a phone call from the U.S. informing her that her mother had suffered a seizure and was on her way to the hospital. Later, her uncle called to tell her that Clarissa had passed away.

Read more: Athletes who spoke about mental health issues

What else the statement included

Saunders, who had extensive hip surgery in the fall of 2021, finished fourth in the USATF Outdoor Championships the previous year and narrowly missed making the global team. The statement also indicated that Saunders was under a great deal of additional burden in her life, including managing her mother’s estate and taking on parental responsibilities for her younger sibling. Despite these obstacles, she is still dedicated to pursuing a career in athletics and using her platform to promote mental health issues. Saunders has expressed regret for not abiding by USADA policy and recognizes the value of maintaining sports integrity and anti-doping activities. Saunders’s ban is a setback, but she is still positive and determined to return at the Paris Olympic Games in 2024.

Read more: World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of prohibited substances come into effect