A kiss is just a kiss, unless, apparently, that kiss is followed by a doping test. In that case a kiss, or rather several kisses, can get you in trouble with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
That's what happened to U.S. Olympic runner Gil Roberts, who an arbiter recently ruled had ingested the masking agent probenecid unknowingly by "frequently and passionately" kissing his girlfriend just hours before his March 24 test.
Judge John Charles Thomas explained the full story in his case summary released on July 10, noting Roberts's girlfriend, Alex Salazar, had taken the substance as part of a medication she procured to treat a sinus infection while traveling in India. But because she had trouble swallowing pills, she took the medication by just swallowing the powder kept in the capsules.
According to the documents, Roberts, 28, had no idea Salazar was taking the medication or that she had taken the medication while "they kissed and 'chilled out'" the afternoon of March 24. Moreover, Roberts did not remember tasting medicine or anything bizarre when he smooched his girlfriend. He did remember, however, that the two kissed a lot.
"Roberts could not count the number of times they kissed between 1 p.m. and the doping control officer's arrival [at 4:07 p.m.]," Thomas wrote.
After conferring with two different doctors, the arbiter officially ruled "this was not a case of intentional doping."
"[F]or Roberts it must have been like lightning out of a clear blue sky for him to learn that by kissing his girlfriend this time that he was exposing himself to a prohibited substance," Thomas added.
USADA accepted the ruling on June 24, rescinding calls to ban the athlete, who went on to compete at the USATF Outdoor Championships that were currently underway. Roberts, was part of Team USA's winning 4×400-meter relay team at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, finished second in the 400, and will compete in August at the world championships in London.
While Roberts's story may sound unique, this is not the first time kissing has led an athlete to fail a doping test.
In 2009, French tennis pro Richard Gasquet was cleared for having cocaine in his system after evidence showed he ingested a trace amount of the substance after kissing a woman at a nightclub the night before.
Canadian pole vaulter Shawn Barber was also cleared after failing a doping test for cocaine when he proved he accidentally ingested trace amounts of the substance after kissing an escort he hired the night before.