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Christian Coleman speaks out, wants apology over drug-testing matter

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Christian Coleman said he deserves an apology, that his reputation as a clean athlete was victimized, as his case of missing drug tests — ultimately thrown out under close examination of a rule — was made public.

“I put my heart and soul into track and field and worked hard to get where I am today,” was posted on Coleman’s social media. “It’s simply disrespectful when fake fans speculate and talk about drugs in relation to the great athletes we have in this sport.

“I shouldn’t have to defend myself but for the first and last time I literally do not take ANY supplements or protein powders. Nothing even legal to help with recovery. Nothing. I work hard at practice, drink water and Powerade, rest, and work even harder the next day. Therefore I have never failed a drug test and never will.”

Coleman, the world’s fastest 100m sprinter each of the last three years, contested an anti-doping rule violation of missing three drug tests in a span of 12 months from 2018 to 2019.

The violation carries at least a one-year ban, even though the athlete may never have tested positive for a banned substance. Coleman would have been in line to miss the world championships that start in two weeks and, possibly, the Tokyo Olympics.

Coleman’s charge was withdrawn by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency last week because his first strike was deemed a “filing failure” and not a “missed test” on June 6, 2018. A “missed test” is when a tester shows up during an athlete’s daily one-hour window at his or her listed location. A “filing failure” is when a tester shows up outside that window, though athletes are still required to provide daily locations to be found.

Rules state that filing failures are backdated to the first day of the quarter in which an athlete failed to properly update whereabouts for drug testers. So it was backdated to April 1, 2018.

The other times testers tried to find him and could not were Jan. 16 and April 26 of this year, the latter coming more than 12 months after the first strike once it was backdated. Case withdrawn.

Coleman said he was first notified this past April of the violation for three missed tests. He was upset that media reported on the matter while the case was still ongoing in August.

“We knew the rules,” Coleman said in a video titled ‘My Perspective’ published Wednesday. “We’re telling them this every single time, but they still told us, ‘We have to have a hearing. It’s three missed tests.’ We’re like, OK, cool, if we have a hearing, we know we’re going to win because we’re looking at the rules, and we’re telling them this is the case.”

Coleman said missing two Diamond League meets in late August and legally dealing with the matter cost him at least $150,000. He said he spoke with USADA CEO Travis Tygart over the phone and wants a public apology, though he did not specifically say whom he wants it from.

“The smear of my reputation, that’s something you can’t put a dollar sign on,” he said, adding that he gets tested 30 or 40 times per year, what he called an “absurd” amount compared to other athletes.

Coleman said the matter was about USADA not knowing anti-doping rules, which ended up hurting his reputation.

“The whole thing about it is, their organization [USADA] is designed to protect the athletes, but in that situation, I felt like a victim,” Coleman said. “I felt like I was being attacked, like they were trying to go after the biggest name in the sport.”

USADA declined to respond specifically to Coleman’s comments about his conversation with Tygart and on the organization. It instead directed to the whereabouts section of its website and, specifically, a section about athlete responsibility.

In the video, Coleman detailed the three times a tester could not find him.

For the first one, he forgot to update his whereabouts when he flew to Portland, Ore., to get treatment for an injury.

“That’s my fault,” Coleman said.

For the second, he didn’t update his whereabouts when his weight training session was moved one hour early and up against his daily one-hour window.

“I do take responsibility for that,” he said.

For the last test, this past April, Coleman said he forgot to update his whereabouts when he traveled to attend the Drake Relays in Iowa.

A drug tester showed up to his training base in Kentucky, could not find him and contacted him. He said he asked if a tester could find him at Drake, but it couldn’t be done. He said he went to a third party to get tested anyway, “just to show good faith.”

“I just feel like people don’t realize how easy it is to miss tests,” Coleman said. “There was people out there calling me an idiot. … I don’t know what people look at athletes as, but we’re human beings, and nobody’s perfect. People make mistakes. People have things going on in their life.”

MORE: Wayde van Niekerk to miss world championships

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Nathan Chen, Simone Biles, U.S. women’s soccer team win Team USA Awards

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Simone Biles was named female athlete of the year and Nathan Chen took the corresponding award for men Tuesday at the Team USA Awards in Los Angeles.

Six-time Olympic swimming champion Amy Van Dyken-Rouen, who has taken up wheelchair CrossFit competition since an ATV accident in 2014 left her paralyzed from the waist down, took the Jesse Owens Olympic Spirit Award. She works to help other people with spinal cord injuries through the Amy Van Dyken Foundation and Amy’s Army, which has launched a Wheels for Kids program to help injured children find wheelchairs that may not be covered by insurance.

The show also included a medal ceremony in which the teammates and family of the late Steven Holcomb received silver medals that were reallocated after doping infractions changed the results of the 2014 Olympic bobsled competition.

MORE: Holcomb’s legacy lives on 

Award winners from the ceremony:

Female Olympic athlete of the year: Simone Biles, gymnastics 

Biles took a one-year break after winning four gold medals and a bronze medal in the 2016 Olympics, then came back to do even better, unleashing new skills on the balance beam and in the floor exercise. This year, she won five gold medals at the world championships, breaking the record for career medals.

Female Paralympic athlete of the year: Oksana Masters, Para Nordic skiing and Para cycling 

Already an eight-time Paralympic medalist in Nordic skiing, biathlon and rowing, Masters had a breakout year in cycling, taking silver medals in the world championships. In Nordic skiing, Masters took five world championships (three cross-country, two biathlon) and the overall World Cup championship in sitting cross-country along with a second-place overall finish in biathlon.

Male Olympic athlete of the year: Nathan Chen, figure skating 

Chen had a double back-to-back year, winning his second straight world championship and his second straight Grand Prix final. He also started his 2019-20 season by winning both of his Grand Prix events. He and Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu are far ahead of any other skaters in posted scores this season.

Male Paralympic athlete of the year: Ben Thompson, Para archery 

Thompson took the world championship and the No. 1 ranking in the men’s compound event and led the U.S. to a world record in the team compound event.

Olympic team of the year: U.S. women’s soccer team 

The team claimed the sport’s biggest prize for the second straight time, working its way through a difficult field that included a quarterfinal matchup with host France to win the World Cup once again, adding to its previous wins in 1991, 1999 and 2015.

Paralympic team of the year: U.S. sled hockey team 

Like the women’s soccer team, the sled hockey team went unbeaten in the world championships and claimed a fourth world title.

MORE: Golden goal clinches championship

Olympic coach of the year: KiSik Lee, archery 

This year, Brady Ellison won a world title and set a world record in the Pan Am Games, and Ellison teamed with Casey Kaufhold to win the world title in the mixed team event, which will be on the Olympic program in 2020.

Paralympic coach of the year: Wesley Johnson, paratriathlon 

The founder and head coach of Balanced Art Multisport in Salt Lake City, Johnson is the personal coach of three top-10 paratriathletes, and he served as an assistant coach in the world championships, where three of the athletes he coached won silver medals.

NBC will have highlights of the show at 2 p.m. ET Dec. 22.

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Hanyu, Zagitova control their Grand Prix Final destiny at NHK Trophy; TV, live stream schedule

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In order to qualify for the Grand Prix Final — after missing the event the past two seasons for varying reasons — two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu needs to finish inside the top four at NHK Trophy, the sixth and last remaining Grand Prix series event. Hanyu competes on home ice in Japan this weekend, and the event is streaming live for NBC Sports Gold subscribers.

A full breakdown of Grand Prix Final-clinching scenarios can be found here.

Hanyu won the Grand Prix Final four straight times (2013-16). The prestigious December event would be the first time this season Hanyu and two-time Grand Prix Final champion Nathan Chen would compete head-to-head, outside the world championships in March.

Hanyu trains in Toronto alongside American Jason Brown, who will also be competing in Japan. Brown clinches a spot in the Grand Prix Final if he earns a silver or better, but is also very likely in if he earns a bronze medal.

Reigning Olympic and world champion Alina Zagitova of Russia is in a similar situation this weekend at NHK Trophy, needing to finish on the podium to clinch a berth in the Final. She faces Moscow-based training partner Alena Kostornaia (who needs to finish fifth or better to make the Final) and Japan’s Rika Kihira (must earn a medal of any color), among others such as 2019 European champion Sofia Samodurova of Russia and 2017 U.S. national champion Karen Chen.

MORE: Alina Zagitova focused on artistry, while other Russians push technical boundaries

Three teams in the pairs’ field at NHK Trophy can earn spots in the Grand Prix Final. Two-time world pair champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong of China and Russia’s Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov need a medal of any color to clinch, while Canada’s Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro need silver to clinch, but could win with a bronze and a high score. See the breakdown here for details.

In ice dance, four-time world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France are favorites at NHK Trophy. They have appeared in three Grand Prix Finals and own a medal of each color, including a win at their most recent appearance in 2017. (The duo withdrew from a regular-series Grand Prix event last season and were unable to qualify for the Final.)

The most likely NHK Trophy scenario is that Papadakis and Cizeron win NHK Trophy, and Russia’s Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin finish second – and if that happens, Papadakis and Cizeron, Stepanova and Bukin and Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates (currently on the cusp of an entry) all make the Final.

MORE: Gabriella Papadakis, Guillaume Cizeron on ‘Fame,’ chasing history

NHK Trophy Broadcast Schedule

Day Time (ET) Event Network
Thursday 10:30 p.m. Rhythm Dance NBC Sports Gold STREAM LINK
Friday 12 a.m. Pairs’ Short NBC Sports Gold STREAM LINK
2:30 a.m. Women’s Short NBC Sports Gold STREAM LINK
5 a.m. Men’s Short NBC Sports Gold STREAM LINK
10 p.m. Free Dance NBC Sports Gold STREAM LINK
Saturday 12:30 a.m. Pairs’ Free NBC Sports Gold STREAM LINK
2:30 a.m. Women’s Free NBC Sports Gold STREAM LINK
5 a.m. Men’s Free NBC Sports Gold STREAM LINK
Sunday 4 p.m. Highlights NBC | STREAM LINK

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

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