Toccata Murphy, W50 American record holder in 400, handed 8-month doping ban for DHEA

Toccata Murphy runs 200-meter dash as W40 in 2014.Toccata Murphy runs 200-meter dash as W40 in 2014. Photo by Rob Jerome

In July 2022, Toccata Murphy, 53, of Alexis, North Carolina, twice ran 400 meters under 60 seconds — the first American over 50 to do so. She shattered the listed record of 61.02 by Emmanuelle “Emma” McGowan at Málaga worlds in 2018. Her latest record was set at the 2022 Kentucky masters outdoor nationals.

But while she was being drug-tested in Lexington, Toccata noted her use of DHEA, which is on the banned list. Her drug test came up negative for any other PEDs, but she’s now accepted an 8-month ban from competition — starting December 9, 2022. (Corrected from USADA typo of 2023.) So no Greensboro nationals for Toccata.

USADA details on Murphy doping case.

USADA details on Murphy doping case. (PDF)

It could have been worse. In its announcement Tuesday, USADA said: “The arbitrator determined that Murphy exhibited No Significant Fault or Negligence as defined by the Code and found that Murphy’s degree of fault was lessened due in part to her attempts to use DHEA to self-treat negative symptoms associated with documented chronic health conditions.”

USATF noted her AR in its meet release: “A new American age group record was established in the women’s 50-54 400m by Toccata Murphy of Charlotte Track Club with a time of 59.59 after running 59.64 on July 17 at the Georgia State Games. She broke the former ratified record of 1:01.02 by nearly a second and a half.”

Toccata’s LinkedIn page notes her being a track coach at Stanley Middle School in Stanley, North Carolina.

Another profile says:

Toccata Murphy was a former freshman HS track and basketball standout, 1985-86. Due to injuries during in high school, she did not pursue her dreams of running track or playing basketball in college at The Ohio State University, but did participate in intramural sports.

​In October, 1995 Toccata became a deputy sheriff in Metro Atlanta, GA. She had a run-in with a suspect that did not want to go to jail and due to being out of shape and unhealthy, the battle was harder than it should have been. That motivated her to get in better shape not only for her health, but also for her safety. Once she started going in 1997, at the age of 27 she was hooked!

​In 2009, Toccata came across a trainer that introduced her to track and field for masters (30+). She eventually joined the Charlotte Track Club, where she is currently on the board and treasurer. After joining the team she has been consistently ranked in the top 5 of the world in the women’s 40-44 and 44-49 age groups, breaking American records along the way. She has become a certified ISSA trainer and USATF Level 1 certified track coach (2011) , and is the track coach at Stanley Middle School.

Here’s the USADA news release:

Arbitrator Imposes Eight-Month Sanction on Track & Field Athlete Toccata Murphy for Anti-Doping Rule Violation

Colorado Springs, Colo. (July 11, 2023) – USADA announced today that an independent arbitrator — selected from the arbitrator pool jointly assembled and agreed upon by the Team USA Athletes’ Commission, the USOPC, and USADA – has rendered a decision in the case of track and field athlete Toccata Murphy, of Alexis, North Carolina. After an evidentiary hearing on June 2, 2023, where both Murphy and USADA were provided a full opportunity to present their cases and witnesses to the independent arbitrator, the arbitrator determined that Murphy will receive an eight-month sanction for using a prohibited substance.

Murphy, 53, declared the use of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) during an in-competition sample collection at the 2022 USATF Masters Outdoor Championships on July 29, 2022 for which USADA was contracted by event organizers to conduct testing and results management. DHEA is a Non-Specified Substance in the class of Anabolic Agents under the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee National Anti-Doping Policy, and the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules, all of which have adopted the World Anti-Doping Code (the Code) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List. DHEA is prohibited at all times.

The arbitrator determined that Murphy exhibited No Significant Fault or Negligence as defined by the Code and found that Murphy’s degree of fault was lessened due in part to her attempts to use DHEA to self-treat negative symptoms associated with documented chronic health conditions.

Murphy’s eight-month period of ineligibility began on December 9, 2022, (2023 typo in release) the date her provisional suspension was imposed. Article 10.10 of the Code provides that all competitive results an athlete obtains from the date an anti-doping rule violation occurs through the date a provisional suspension is imposed shall be disqualified unless fairness requires otherwise. The arbitrator declined to disqualify any of Murphy’s competition results in part because Murphy’s sample did not test positive for any prohibited substances and Murphy forthrightly declared her use of DHEA during sample collection.

In an effort to aid athletes, as well as support team members such as parents and coaches, in understanding the rules applicable to them, USADA provides comprehensive instruction on its website on the testing process and prohibited substances, how to file and update athlete Whereabouts, how to obtain permission to use a necessary medication, and the risks and dangers of taking supplements, as well as performance-enhancing and recreational drugs.

In addition, USADA manages a drug reference hotline, Global Drug Reference Online (, conducts educational sessions with National Governing Bodies and their athletes, and distributes a multitude of educational materials, such as a supplement guide, a nutrition guide, a clean sport handbook, and periodic alerts and advisories.

USADA makes available a number of ways to report the abuse of performance-enhancing drugs in sport in an effort to protect clean athletes and promote clean competition. Any tip can be reported using the USADA Play Clean Tip Center, by text at 87232 (“USADA”), by email at, by phone at 1-877-Play Clean (1-877-752-9253) or by mail.

USADA is responsible for the testing and results management process for athletes in the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Movement and is equally dedicated to preserving the integrity of sport through research initiatives and educational programs.

Me again: Good on Toccata for fessing up when she didn’t have to. But for someone in our elite ranks, she should know about the masters TUE process and apply for a DHEA waiver.

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About the Author

Ken Stone
Ken has followed track as an athlete, writer and webmaster since the late 1960s, and saw most sessions of track and field at the 1984 Los Angeles and 1996 Atlanta Olympics. He also attended the 1988, 1992, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Trials. He worked for 10 newspapers and now reports for Times of San Diego. Write him at or Story tips always welcome!

2 Comments on "Toccata Murphy, W50 American record holder in 400, handed 8-month doping ban for DHEA"

  1. Now Ken Stone, I thought you were a better reporter than this! If you are going to try and be the first to print this, state all the facts man! Since you didn’t do a good job, at your job…let me help you! PS: While you are on the toilet or something, please reread my arbitration hearing so you can get your facts straight next time you report on me!

    Toccata Murphy bought and used 2 DHEA pills over 4 months prior to competition, but declared it on her form at time of drug test at the 2022 Masters Outdoor Nationals, not knowing it was a banned substance. Toccata’s drug test was negative!!! USADA wanted to ban Toccata for 16 months and dismiss all awards and records, but Toccata represented herself in arbitration and was found at fault for using the banned substance DHEA, but at a very low fault threshold. Toccata was given a sanction from December 9, 2022 (the end of investigation) to July 6, 2023. Toccata is able to keep all awards and records, including her W50-54 400m record that she obtained at the 2022 Masters Outdoor Nationals. Toccata will not be running at the 2023 Masters Outdoor Nationals because she has been taking care of her sick family members and have been unable to train consistently.

    That’s how you do it my friend, if you ever need help writing a truthful, factual, and no BS article…you are so welcome to seek out my assistance.

    Have a good one Ken!

  2. Toccata got off very very easy. USADA has lowered the boom on many other masters track athletes. “Self-treating” symptoms is very dangerous. I’m glad she is getting such a light suspension and that she returns to competition very soon.

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