Former NC A&T track and field program sprinter Grace Nwokocha receives provisional suspension from Athletics Integrity Unit | Ncat


GREENSBORO — A second athlete who competed for the NC A&T athletics program during the 2021-22 school year has received a provisional suspension from the International Sport Athletics Integrity Unit.

Grace Nwokocha, Nigerian Olympian and Big South Conference Track Athlete of the Year at A&T in the spring, drew suspension “for presence/use of banned substances (Ostarine & Ligandrol) (Article 2.1 & Article 2.2) “, the unit announced over the weekend. Ostarine and Ligandrol are anabolic agents banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

It follows a temporary suspension of Randolph Ross, one of the most decorated athletes in A&T history and Olympic gold medalist, in July, which ruled him out of competition for the United States. at the World Championships in Oregon. Ross was also named Track Athlete of the Year by the Big South.

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Neither Nwokocha nor Ross are currently registered with A&T.

Both athletes were coached in 2021-22 by Duane Ross, who has since left Greensboro to become director of athletics at the University of Tennessee. Randolph Ross is his son and joined his sister, Jonah, in announcing that they would follow their father to Knoxville, although Randolph Ross is not listed for Tennessee on the school’s athletics website. Allen Johnson, the new A&T coach, said Nwokocha had entered the transfer portal and was no longer part of the Aggies program.

A&T hired Johnson, a hurdler who won world championships and an Olympic gold medal and was an assistant coach at NC State, as program director in late June.

Nwokocha finished sixth at the NCAA championships in June in the 100 and 200 meters, earning first-team All-America honors in each. She won the events at the Big South Conference championship meet in May and was also part of the winning A&T 4×100 relay team.

Nwokocha, from Port Harcourt, Nigeria, ran the first leg of the Nigerian 4×100 team that won gold at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England in August.

Nwokocha competed for Nigeria at the Tokyo Olympics and she reached the 100m and 200m semi-finals at the World Championships in July.

Ross, who won or shared five NCAA championships in 2021 and 2022 and competed for the gold medal-winning Team USA in the 4×400 relay in Tokyo, received his interim suspension after officials were unable to locate in June for doping test. The Athletics Integrity Unit has issued Ross a Notice of Allegation regarding Rule 2.5 of the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules for tampering with the doping control process.

“The allegation arises from the Athlete’s conduct during an investigation of a potential whereabouts violation,” the unit’s statement read. “There was an unsuccessful attempt by the AIU to test Mr. Ross on June 18, 2022, and the investigation into this matter concluded when Mr. Ross was interviewed by the AIU in Eugene on July 14. “

Athletes who are part of the declaration group, and Ross is, are required to provide anti-doping authorities with detailed lists of their whereabouts so that testers can reach them without notice to collect samples when athletes do not compete, the Associated Press reported. In some cases, three failed testing attempts may result in an anti-doping rule violation.

The Athletics Integrity Unit oversees testing, compliance and investigations, among other activities, for international athletics. The unit operates independently of World Athletics, the international sanctioning body.

A Provisional Suspension means that an athlete is temporarily banned from competition before a final decision is made in a hearing conducted under the rules of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Duane Ross, who took the job at Tennessee in May and coached the Aggies through the end of the season, elevated the A&T athletics program to a place among the national elite. Its teams or individuals have won nine national championships, with the best team finishes of third for men and fourth for women at the 2021 NCAA Meet. The men’s team finished ninth and the women 23rd in June.

Ross’ women’s team won the Big South Conference championship in May at High Point, but then had to forfeit because they used an ineligible athlete. The Aggies dropped 26 points and finished second, with seven points, ahead of High Point.

Symone Darius, who was second to Nwokocha in the 100 and 200 and raced for the winning A&T team in the 4×100 relay to help the Aggies score 26 of their points, had qualified for the NCAA championships but did not compete. Neither the university nor the Deep South identified the athlete and no explanation was given as to why she was ineligible.

Ross, a hurdler during his competitive career, won a bronze medal at the 1999 World Championships. But his appearances at the 2002-05 U.S. Outdoor Championships, 2003 and 2004 World Championships and Olympic Athens in 2004 were overturned when he received a two-year ban in 2010 from the US Anti-Doping Agency.

Ross was one of several athletes to testify in federal court in 2008 against trainer Trevor Graham, who was found guilty of lying to investigators in the BALCO steroids case that also involved Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi baseball; track and field star Marion Jones, who competed in the sport and in basketball in North Carolina; and former NFL player Bill Romanowski.

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