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Coleman’s charge was withdrawn by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency last week because his first strike was deemed a “filing failure” and not a “missed test” on June 6, 2018.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 Case withdrawn.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.”

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