The athlete was unavailable for three doping controls

Mo Katir and the three mistakes that could leave him out of the Olympics

Mohamed Katir - REUTERS/LUKAS BARTH
photo_camera Mohammed Katir - REUTERS/LUKAS BARTH

Bad times for Mohammed Katir. Spanish athletics had high hopes for his participation in the Olympic Games in Paris and everything has collapsed in a few hours.

  1. Federation's position

Katir, world silver medallist in the 5000m race, announced his "provisional suspension" by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) due to "a breach of the rules derived from three location failures in the last twelve months".

The failures relate to three occasions on which Katir could not be located for doping control. The athlete attributes these incidents to errors in entering his whereabouts data into the ADAMS platform.

Federation's position

The president of the Royal Spanish Athletics Federation, Raúl Chapado, did not close ranks with the athlete and assured that Mohamed Katir's participation in the Paris Games will only be possible if his file is closed by the World Athletics Athletics Integrity Unit. 

The following day, Chapado gave a press conference to express the official position of the federation in favour of "sport and athletes who compete in a clean and fair way" where he smoothed out the differences, but without excesses due to the enormous problem Spain has with doping control.

The head of the RFEA expressed respect for the proceedings against Katir and was blunt when referring to the Olympic dream of the athlete from Mula: "The Federation approved in 2017 the eligibility criteria, and an athlete with an open file for indiscipline or doping is not eligible for the Federation. The eligibility criteria are above the sporting ones. If he gets the precautionary measure? His file would still be open, so he would not be eligible. The regulations are there to be complied with", stressed Chapado, making it clear that the only possibility for Katir to fulfil his Olympic dream is for the IAU to close the file or for the appeal that the athlete plans to lodge to be resolved in his favour.

As if this were not enough, according to the rules announced by the federation in circular 183/2023 on 25 October, Katir will have to compete in the Spanish Championships to be held in La Nucia (Alicante) from 28 to 30 June.

"It will be an indispensable condition to opt to be pre-selected or to maintain this condition to participate in the Spanish Outdoor Championships 2024, in the individual event in which one aspires to participate in the Olympic Games", it is established in the rules, which also indicate that the list of athletes selected for the Games will be made public on 3 July.

Mohamed Katir – PHOTO/FILE
Mohammed Katir – PHOTO/FILE

The clock is ticking for Katir, who has already announced his intention to challenge the provisional sanction imposed by the IAU. The athlete spoke out on social media and assured that everything is due to an administrative problem: "I have to show my face as I do on the track. Everything that has been leaked was my decision. It hurts to see that since 2021 some people call you doped to your face. It hurts to see it because I preferred to represent you, Spain, instead of my place of birth, Morocco". 

He added: "In 120 AIU tests I have never tested positive. It's an administrative problem, I know I'm going to get out of this. There are thousands of athletes who don't know what the WADA tracking app is, and I've had unfair failures. You're just going to miss out on a great athlete like me". 

The president of the Athletics Federation of the Valencian Community (FACV), Vicente Añó, was not very positive either and assured that now the athlete will have to prove that he has not doped and that, due to the deadlines, it will be difficult for him to make it to the Olympic Games in Paris.

The emergence of Mohammed Katir on the international scene in 2021 was a breath of fresh air for middle-distance runners in Spain, which was going through a long desert without a reference point to mark a generation, as happened with Fermín Cacho, Reyes Estévez or Juan Carlos Higuero.

Between 10 June and 13 July 2021, Mohammed Katir broke three national records (1,500, 3,000 and 5,000) in just 33 days and shortly afterwards, at the Tokyo Olympic Games, he entered the 5,000 final, came eighth and took home a diploma.

Active athletes are required to report to anti-doping authorities a specific 60-minute time slot each day when they will be available at a specific location for doping control if required to do so.

They can and must continuously update their data if they change location or travel for training, competition or leisure. They have a platform called ADAMS for this purpose. They can fail twice, but not three times.