Gabbi Cunningham will be added to Team USA’s women’s 100 meters hurdles squad for the Tokyo Olympic Games this month after Brianna McNeal lost her appeal against a five-year ban. Cunningham finished fourth at the 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, on June 20, but will now secure an automatic spot to the Summer Games.
McNeal, the reigning Olympic sprint hurdles champion had hoped to defend her title in Tokyo later this summer but has now seen her five-year ban upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Despite being suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit in April after a disciplinary tribunal reckon that she was guilty of “tampering within the results management process,” McNeal was allowed to compete in the US Olympic Trials last month while her case was subject to appeal.
The 29-year-old went on to finish second at the trials in Eugene, behind world record holder Keni Harrison and clocked a time of 12.51 seconds in the process.
However, on Friday it was revealed that McNeal, who won the 100m hurdles gold medal at the Rio 2016 Games – but missed the 2017 World Championships after being handed a one-year ban for missing three drug tests – will not be allowed to defend her title in Japan.
She said at the time of being suspended for whereabouts in 2016 that she was “very clean, very honest and transparent.”
Her ban will run until August 2025 and all her performances from February 13 and August 14 last year are disqualified.
Cunningham will now join Harrison and Christina Clemons in the women’s 100m hurdles in Tokyo, as Team USA looks to repeat another podium clean sweep after Nia Ali and Kristi Castlin finished behind McNeal in Rio de Janeiro.
Cunningham, the national Indoor Championships 60m hurdles champion in 2020, ran a personal best of 12.53s for fourth at the U.S. Trials.