Christian Coleman suspended after disputed missed drug test
World 100m champion Christian Coleman was provisionally suspended for missing drug tests, a ban he saw coming after appealing his last missed test Dec. 9.
Coleman detailed his case Tuesday night, saying a drug tester did not make an adequate attempt to find him.
The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), which handles doping cases for track and field, listed Coleman as provisionally suspended for “whereabouts failures” -- any combination of three missed drug tests and/or filing failures in a 12-month period. A filing failure could mean incorrectly filling out forms to tell drug testers where an athlete can be found, or not submitting quarterly forms at all.
Olympic-level athletes must be available for out-of-competition drug testing 365 days a year, providing their daily whereabouts, including a more specific daily one-hour window, to help drug testers find them. Coleman has never failed a drug test.
A provisional suspension is for an unspecified period, defined as one “prior to a final decision at a hearing.” Neither the AIU nor Coleman has said if or when a hearing is scheduled. In whereabouts failures cases, a suspension, once finalized, is one to two years depending on degree of fault. That puts Coleman’s 2021 Olympic hopes in jeopardy even if a ban is backdated.
“A [two-year ban] would just be very egregious,” Coleman, who is still appealing, said on the Flotrack podcast. “I think that would be very, I don’t know, overkill. In situations in the past, I’ve seen people be suspended for only a year. If that’s the case, hopefully it can be a situation where it’s December to December or maybe May to May or from this day to next year, and I’ll still be good for the Olympics. That’s what’s most important.
“Even if we had to work out some sort of deal or anything, I don’t know, man, for me to just be suspended a year and still be available for the Olympics, I’m not sure, but I think in the rulebook it says two years. I’ve never seen that done or happen or anybody face that, so we’ll see. Everything’s just kind of like up in the air.”
Coleman said the drug tester did not attempt to call to find him and that he has received phone calls every other time he was not at home for a drug test.
“The lack of any telephone call does not give the Athlete a defence to the assertion of a Missed Test,” the AIU said in an email Wednesday, noting it is not commenting on Coleman’s ongoing case. “Testing conducted by the AIU is on a no-advanced notice basis and instructions not to make any phone call to an Athlete are given to Doping Control Officers [drug testers] by the AIU (with limited exceptions).”
Coleman’s other defenses: the address on the missed drug test report was incorrect -- “He messed up the two or three words in my address,” Coleman said on the Flotrack podcast. “Maybe he was at the right place. Maybe he wasn’t. I don’t know.”
Coleman also said he returned home before the end of the one-hour window that the drug tester said they waited for him. That hour was 7:15-8:15 p.m.
“I know that I was there within the hour because I watched the beginning of the Monday Night Football game,” Coleman said on the podcast. “Of course, that’s he said, she said. It’s not really much I can do. There’s no real proof of that.”
Last summer, Coleman was cleared in a case of missed tests when a violation was backdated, meaning the third strike came more than 12 months after the first one.
He continued competing -- winning that world title to cement Olympic favorite status -- with two strikes on his record from January and April. That meant another strike before Jan. 16, 2020, would be his third in a 12-month period and could result in a suspension.
Coleman, a 2016 Olympic 4x100m relay member, was the world’s fastest 100m sprinter in 2017, 2018 and 2019, succeeding the retired Usain Bolt. His goal is to compete in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at the Tokyo Games.
The world’s second-fastest 100m sprinter last year was Noah Lyles, the world 200m champion who is bidding for the same Olympic triple.
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