Brianna McNeal had been recovering from an abortion she had in January last year, when she missed a mandatory drug test from World Athletics two days after the procedure. McNeal, a 2016 Olympic track and field champion, had been in bed, and didn’t hear the anti-doping officials at her front door who had come to carry out the test.
Physically and emotionally recovering from her abortion, among other intense personal struggles, marked one of the most difficult times in McNeal’s life. Yet, where she needed compassion and support, she was met with suspicion, interrogation, and devastating punishment. Following two hearings of her case before World Athletics, which McNeal described to Salon as “insensitive,” “invasive” and “gaslighting,” last month, she was suspended from competing in her sport for five years for allegedly tampering within the results management process.
“In both of my hearings, they didn’t acknowledge my mental health, they tried to discredit it — especially the second time, when they brought in some clinical psychologist to try to tell me what I should have been experiencing,” McNeal said, of a disciplinary hearing in which she tried to explain to World Athletics how recovery from her abortion and her subsequent mental health struggles had affected her. Instead, she was told she hadn’t actually experienced depression, and all the ways she supposedly would have acted if she had.
But, but, getting rid of a few grammes of parasite doesn’t produce emotional distress, let alone depression, does it? It’s a liberation, surely?
To think otherwise would be to agree with those damn conservatives, wouldn’t it?