Luguelín Santos of the Dominican Republic, the London 2012 Olympics silver medallist in the 400 metres, has been given a three-year ban by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) for manipulating his age to participate in the IAAF World Junior Championships (now known as the World Athletics U20 Championships), Barcelona 2012.

He has been stripped of the 400m gold medal he won at the competition and his period of ineligibility runs from 11 March 2023 to 10 March 2026.

The AIU said Santos admitted to falsifying his date of birth to compete in the 2012 age-group Championships.

His passport showed 12 November 1993 – when in fact he born on that date in 1992, which meant he was ineligible to participate in the first place. The 2012 Competition Rules, required junior athletes to be aged 18 or 19 on 31 December of the competition year. But Santos would have been 20 years old.

DISTURBING LEVEL OF CHEATING “Our ongoing investigations have been unearthing a disturbing level of cheating, through age manipulation, which has distorted results of junior athletics competitions at the highest level.

In this instance, a World Junior champion was wrongfully crowned, and the rightful winner was denied his moment of glory,” noted AIU Head Brett Clothier.

“Beyond that, age manipulation is challenging us to confront serious issues, including embedded cultures which are teaching youth inappropriate values, as well as providing the means for athletes’ ages to be altered in national documents, and ultimately celebrating ill-gotten victories.

The AIU stands firmly against such actions and will pursue all such alleged violations vigorously.”

REGRET In June, Santos took to his social page to express regret for his past action, apologise to the Dominican society and say he would “fully respect” the final sanction from the AIU.

“I greatly regret what happened at that time, and without intending to evade responsibilities, I want to explain that in those years I was a young man under 18 years of age, with few resources, and little education, from Bayaguana, who simply followed the guidelines of those who… directed me in my sports career back then,” Santos wrote.

CHARGED WITH THREE VIOLATIONS According to the AIU: “Santos, now aged 31, was charged with three violations of the World Athletics (formerly IAAF) Competition Rules 2012-2013: Rule 141 (participating whilst not eligible); Rule 9.6 (engaging in corrupt practices in relation to Athletics) and Rule 9.10(c) (failing to report any approaches or invitations to engage in conduct that would amount to a violation of Rule 9). He was also charged with violating Articles C.4 and C.6 of the IAAF Code of Ethics, in force from 1 May 2012, by engaging in corrupt practices relating to the sport of Athletics under Rule 9 of the Competition Rules. His fifth charge related to violating the Integrity Standard set out in Section 3.3.1 of the World Athletics Integrity Code of Conduct, in force from 3 April 2017, for failing to act with utmost integrity and honesty at all times in entering International Competitions from 3 April 2017 onwards using a falsified document.”

‘SPECIAL PASSPORT’ The AIU confronted the athlete after noticing that he declared 1993 as his birth year for competitions from 2010 to 2017 and used 1992 as his birth year throughout 2018 based on a passport issued in 2018.

Santos revealed to the AIU that he was instructed to obtain a ‘special passport’ issued by the Dominican authorities, which gave his date of birth as being 12 November 1993, to use for competitions, while the passport with his genuine birth date is reserved for other official purposes.

The AIU said Santos admitted using the ‘special passport’ for the World Junior Championships 2012 and even provided supporting documentation to verify his claim. He was provisionally suspended by the AIU on 8 July 2022, issued with a Notice of Charge regarding the alleged violations on December 22, 2022, then on January 13, 2023 he signed an admission and acceptance form regarding the violations in the Notice of Charge.

PROMPTLY ADMITTED But Santos took part in a competition on March 11, 2023 while still serving his temporary ban. He confessed this to the AIU on June 28, 2023, and this is why his three-year ban starts anew on March 11, 2023. The three-year-ban imposed on Santos was determined under the relevant Competition Rule in 2012 (Rule 9) which provided for a range of sanction between two and four years. The AIU said it sought a four-year ban, but this was reduced to three “when Santos promptly admitted the charges”.

Santos accepted the sanctions, including the disqualification of his world junior title of July 2012. The Olympic silver medal which he won the following month in London is however not affected.

 

 

 

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