World Athletics Championships 2019: Christian Coleman set to battle sceptics in Doha after recent testing controversy

Christian Coleman arrives at the World Championships as the heavy favourite for 100m gold after an impressive season that has seen him clock a world-leading 9.81sec.

Agence France-Presse September 25, 2019 08:28:47 IST
World Athletics Championships 2019: Christian Coleman set to battle sceptics in Doha after recent testing controversy
  • Christian Coleman arrives at the World Championships as the heavy favourite for 100m gold after an impressive season that has seen him clock a world-leading 9.81sec.

  • But while the 23-year-old has left most of his rivals trailing firmly in his slipstream this year, he may find sceptics harder to shake off.

  • In the eyes of many, Coleman, the 2017 World Championships silver medallist over 100m, is extremely fortunate to even be competing in Doha.

Doha: Christian Coleman arrives at the World Championships as the heavy favourite for 100m gold after an impressive season that has seen him clock a world-leading 9.81sec.

World Athletics Championships 2019 Christian Coleman set to battle sceptics in Doha after recent testing controversy

File image of Christian Coleman. AFP

But while the 23-year-old has left most of his rivals trailing firmly in his slipstream this year, he may find sceptics harder to shake off.

In the eyes of many, Coleman, the 2017 World Championships silver medallist over 100m, is extremely fortunate to even be competing in Doha.

In August, the athletics world was rocked by news that Coleman had registered three drug-testing "whereabouts" failures in a 12-month period – an offence usually regarded as equivalent to a failed drug test and followed by a ban of up to two years.

Yet with Coleman facing the very real possibility of a suspension that would have barred him from competing at the World Championships and next year's Olympics, the case collapsed this month because of a technicality.

At first glance, it appeared to be an open and shut case.

Coleman had recorded his first whereabouts failure on 6 June last year, before two more offences in 16 January and 26 April this year.

However the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) abruptly withdrew the charges against Coleman on 2 September after a review of the rules regarding how the 12-month window should be calculated.

Under an obscure regulation in the International Standard for Testing and Investigations (ISTI) guidelines, Coleman's first missed case in June last year should have been backdated to the first day of that quarter, making the formal date of the first offence April 1, 2018.

'Nobody's perfect'

That meant the dates of the three offences fell outside the required 12-month time frame for a doping offence to have occurred – leaving Coleman in the clear and free to compete in Doha.

Coleman responded to the news by demanding an apology from USADA, accusing the anti-doping body of smearing his reputation and insisting he had always been a clean athlete.

"I have never failed a drug test and never will," Coleman said.

"It's a shame on USADA that this was public knowledge, that they didn't know their own rules -- that they expect athletes to know the rules but they can't follow their own."

Coleman explained away the three whereabouts failures as simply innocent mistakes, blaming his anxiety and last-minute schedule changes for his failure to update his location information.

"People don't realise how easy it is to miss tests," Coleman said.

"People out there calling me an idiot, or I've gotta be stupid to miss tests. I don't know what people look at athletes at, but nobody's perfect. People make mistakes."

The wider athletics world, however, is likely to view those protestations of innocence through a prism of scepticism.

Privately, anti-doping officials say that while athletes can often miss individual tests, it is largely unheard of for an athlete to miss three.

"We do everything we possibly can to ensure this kind of thing doesn't happen, and we make it as easy as possible for athletes to notify us of changes in their schedule," one official said.

Updated Date:

also read

Rugby league follows swimming's footsteps, bans transgender players from women's internationals
Sports

Rugby league follows swimming's footsteps, bans transgender players from women's internationals

The decision means transgender athletes will be banned from this year's Women's Rugby League World Cup in England in November.

Neeraj Chopra to lead 37-member athletics team for CWG 2022; participation of some subject to form and fitness
Sports

Neeraj Chopra to lead 37-member athletics team for CWG 2022; participation of some subject to form and fitness

Out of the 37 picked by the selection committee of the AFI, 18 are women, with the likes of star sprinters Hima Das and Dutee Chand getting their berths through the women's 4x100m relay team.

Explained: What is FINA's new ruling on transgender swimmers
Sports

Explained: What is FINA's new ruling on transgender swimmers

The decision came following weeks of deliberations on the topic which stemmed from US transgender swimmer Lia Thomas dominating women's collegiate events.