Tuesday, June 14, 2016

About That Nia Williams Suspension

The Olympics and the US Olympic Committee are super serious about doping. You can ask any athlete about it and they will be well familiar with getting early morning knocks at the door to relieve themselves into a cup for testing. Unfortunately for Nia Williams she found that out the hard way. Williams, who came into the program under former head coach Jules McCoy after a stellar summer with Life West, has been given a four year ban for testing positive for a couple of banned substances. She initially tested position in early November of last year and then tested positive again during the Dubai 7s.

Williams was given a provisional suspension back in December. TIAR became aware of the suspension back in April but decided not to report on it (more on that in a minute). Today the USA Anti-Doping Agency announced the formal four year ban. Williams has not been with the Eagles since the provisional ban back in December and was out of the Olympic picture all together.

Take the jump to read more.
Here is the technical details of the suspension from the USADA:
Williams, 22, tested positive for 19‐norandrosterone (“19‐NA”), and 2a‐methyl‐5a‐androstan‐3a-ol‐17‐one, metabolites of the prohibited anabolic agents nandrolone (or its precursors) and drostanolone, respectively, as the result of an out-of-competition test on November 6, 2015. Williams also tested positive for 19‐NA, drostanolone and its metabolite 2a‐methyl‐5a‐androstan‐3a-ol‐17‐one, as the result of an in-competition test on December 3, 2015, at the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Seven Series in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
So why did TIAR not report on it when we became aware? From our perspective it was the selfish act of one player trying to give themselves an edge and not reflective of the entire program. We have long had a policy of not reporting on players personal lives or mistakes. That is not sport, that is is the stuff of tabloids. If these players were making millions of dollars and playing in publicly funded stadiums it would be a different story. The fact is that with very few exceptions all professional rugby players in the United States are average people that arguably make below average wages. It doesn't serve anyone any good to drag people's personal lives into the public sphere.

Granted, Williams was doping while part of the U.S. program. That is rugby related. However, the authorities have been aware of the incident since last year. Williams was booted from the team. It was the act of one player and not an entire team. When we learned about the incident back in April we were also made well aware that as a result of the positive test that both the men's and women's rugby teams have been subjected to additional testing. That's burdensome enough that then adding guilt by association isn't going to do anyone any good.

What Williams did was wrong. It's cheating, plain and simple, but it would be wrong to use that incident to cast a negative light on the rest of the U.S. rugby program. It was a personal choice that had personal consequences as well as consequences for her team. U.S.A. Rugby and the USOC deserve a lot of credit for not releasing anything publicly until the final findings were released and now that the facts are out there we can fully turn our attention to Rio.


  1. If you had known about her first suspension, you should have reported it. As the premier American rugby news website, you owe it to your readers. Self-censorship delegitimizes all the good work you've been doing. I hope that perhaps your editors have learned a lesson from this.

  2. Agree with the previous comment that this is absolute must report material. Even if she acted alone, you hold yourselves out as a rugby news organization. This news is not about her personal life (I'd argue even if she wasn't a US player, confirmed doping would be reportable as she was competing in USA Rugby sanctioned championships, even getting MVP of club 7s).
    Williams was representing the USA and getting paid by the program. Though waiting for the official ruling and sanction by USADA under some circumstances may be an understandable reason to wait to report, so as not to tarnish her reputation until a final decision was rendered, your reasoning for withholding is not a good one. We need more rugby journalists to report the tough news as well as the good, and to hold USA Rugby players/coaches/administrators responsible to their members.

  3. Nia Williams has busted her butt to get to where she is today, you have yet to mention that all substances that she has taken while contracted on the team had been approved by her trainer who I will remain nameless for the sake of her "privacy". I too am an athlete and 100% believe the abuse of seriods should have its punishment but to make Nia as a "selfish" athlete and doing it for her own personal benefit is completely cruel and unfair. She worked HARD and THAT Is why she was contracted because former coach Jules and now head coach also her "support for the last 2 years" Richie saw her talent and work ethic that were NOT from drug abuse. So you say you believed before that before it was unfair to publicize the actions done from an athlete while contracted on the team... AGAIN, you did not do an extensive study or report on when any of these alleged drugs were taken or where they could have come from. Nia Williams is a proud US rugby player and brought, hard work, dedication and hope to a team she was honored to play for. To see her USA "teammates" also bashing, sharing and posting negative feedback during this time does show the lack of family, trust, loyalty and respect that the USA Rugby "players/parents/coaches /administrators have for someone who they called a teammate. Because Nia brought so much to the table for the USA team is in fact why you actually have a story this time around.

    Nia will still soar like an eagle, always.

    -Bria Williams aka her older sister.

  4. Every athlete busted for steroids has a version of the " My trainer told me to take it" story. Every athlete at Chula Vista for ANY SPORT has had the WADA Guidelines explained to them, the pitfalls and consequences for failed tests. As her older sister, you have lost your objectivity: EVERY WOMAN AND MAN ON THOSE TEAMS BUST THEIR BUTTS! Her negative and yes, SELFISH AND SELF-SERVING behaviors make every player on the USA RUGBY TEAM, Women and Men alike, look bad and casts a negative pall over the entire sport. She betrayed the trust of her team mates when she cheated! She may soar like an eagle but not a USA EAGLE and that's the only type of Eagle I care about!

  5. Bria - Chris Isaak sang it best .... baby did a bad bad thing. Using the line "my trainer" told me so demonstrates that Nia did not take responsibility for her own actions. Nia did do it for her own selfish benefit. It is confirmed that she used a banned substance and it did shed poor light on the women's program. How are we to believe she acted alone? As much as we complain about the Russian's, we need to look in the mirror. We have this story because Nia brought the pharmacist to the dinner table and now she is paying the price. I will finish with another quote. "If you can't do the time, do not do the crime."