Christian Coleman, world 100m champion, banned through Tokyo Olympics

Christian Coleman
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Christian Coleman, the world 100m champion, has been banned through the Tokyo Olympics — until May 13, 2022 — over a case of missed drug tests.

A disciplinary tribunal panel upheld Coleman’s provisional suspension — first announced in June — for missing three drug tests in a 12-month span, all in 2019. The penalty for “whereabouts failures” is one to two years depending on degree of fault for first-time offenders.

Coleman was given the full two-year suspension, from the start of his provisional ban last May 14, rather than a shorter ban that could have allowed him to return before the Tokyo Olympics next summer.

A panel said that Coleman lied about being at his home before the end of a one-hour window to be tested on Dec. 9, his last of three strikes.

“Unfortunately, we see this case as involving behavior by the athlete as very careless at best and reckless at worst,” according to the tribunal’s decision published Tuesday.

Coleman, who has never failed a drug test, has 30 days to appeal the ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. He will appeal, “and this will be resolved well before the U.S. Olympic Trials,” said Coleman’s lawyer, Howard Jacobs, in an email.

“Coleman has nothing further to say until such time as the matter can be heard in the Court of jurisdiction,” Coleman’s agent said in an email.

Coleman did comment on the case in June.

“A [two-year ban] would just be very egregious,” he 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.”

Coleman, 24, succeeded the retired Usain Bolt as the world’s fastest man, clocking the world’s fastest time in the 100m in 2017, 2018 and 2019, including taking gold at the world championships in Doha on Sept. 28, 2019.

MORE: Who are the Olympic men’s 100m favorites?

The missed tests were Jan. 16, April 26 and Dec. 9, with the second instance specified as a filing failure. A filing failure, in this case, meant Coleman incorrectly filled out quarterly forms to notify drug testers where to find him, and received a strike when testers showed up to that location, and he was not present.

Coleman contested the April 26 filing failure and the Dec. 9 missed test.

He focused on the Dec. 9 missed test in June comments, saying he returned home from Christmas shopping and Chipotle before the end of a one-hour window that drug testers said they waited for him. That hour was 7:15-8:15 p.m. at his Lexington, Ky., home.

“I know that I was there within the hour because I watched the beginning of the Monday Night Football game,” Coleman said in June. “Of course, that’s he said, she said. It’s not really much I can do. There’s no real proof of that.”

The tribunal decision had more details: Coleman had receipts showing he was shopping at least from 7:13 p.m., bought Chipotle at 7:53 and, after he said he returned home, bought 16 items from a Walmart Supercenter at 8:22.

The tribunal rejected Coleman’s argument, saying its two drug testers were standing directly in front of Coleman’s apartment between 7:15 and 8:15 and would have noticed if he entered the apartment during that hour.

The tribunal also deemed it impossible that Coleman could have bought Chipotle at 7:53, driven home, parked his car, went into his home, eaten the Chipotle, watched the 8:15 kickoff, driven to the Walmart, picked up 16 items and paid for them by 8:22.

“It is obvious that in fact the athlete did not go home until after making his 8:22pm purchase,” according to the decision. “We are comfortably satisfied that this is what happened.”

The decision did not mention Coleman’s other June assertion, that the address on the missed drug test report was incorrect — “He messed up the two or three words in my address,” Coleman said in June. “Maybe he was at the right place. Maybe he wasn’t. I don’t know.”

The tribunal also noted that, in summer 2019, Coleman “had the narrowest possible escape” from a potential ban when he was cleared in a case of missed tests when a violation was procedurally 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. That strike came on Dec. 9.

Coleman, a 2016 Olympic 4x100m relay member, had a goal 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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Alexa Knierim, Brandon Frazier top pairs’ short at U.S. Figure Skating Championships

Alexa Knierim, Brandon Frazier
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World champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier lead after the pairs’ short program in what may be their last U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

Knierim and Frazier, who last March became the first U.S. pair to win a world title since 1979, tallied 81.96 points to open the four-day nationals on Thursday.

They lead by 15.1 over Emily Chan and Spencer Howe going into Saturday’s free skate in San Jose, California. The top three teams from last year’s event — which Knierim and Frazier missed due to him contracting COVID-19 — are no longer competing together.

After nationals, a committee selects three U.S. pairs for March’s world championships in Japan.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Scores | Broadcast Schedule

Before the fall Grand Prix Series, the 31-year-old Knierim said this will probably be their last season competing together, though the pair also thought they were done last spring. They don’t expect to make a final decision until after a Stars on Ice tour this spring.

“I don’t like to just put it out there and say it is the last or not going to be the last because life just has that way of throwing curveballs, and you just never know,” Frazier said this month. “But I would say that this is the first nationals where I’m going to go in really trying to soak up every second as if it is my last because you just don’t know.”

Knierim is going for a fifth U.S. title, which would tie the record for a pairs’ skater since World War II, joining Kyoka Ina, Tai Babilonia, Randy Gardner, Karol Kennedy and Peter Kennedy. Knierim’s first three titles, and her first Olympics in 2018, were with husband Chris, who retired in 2020.

Knierim is also trying to become the first female pairs’ skater in her 30s to win a national title since 1993. Knierim and ice dancer Madison Chock are trying to become the first female skaters in their 30s to win a U.S. title in any discipline since 1995.

After being unable to defend their 2021 U.S. title last year, Knierim and Frazier reeled off a series of historic results in what had long been the country’s weakest discipline.

They successfully petitioned for an Olympic spot and placed sixth at the Games, best for a U.S. pair since 2002. They considered retirement after their world title, which was won without the top five teams from the Olympics in attendance. They returned in part to compete as world champions and to give back to U.S. skating, helping set up younger pairs for success.

They became the first U.S. pair to win two Grand Prix Series events, then in December became the first U.S. pair to make a Grand Prix Final podium (second place). The world’s top pairs were absent; Russians banned due to the war in Ukraine and Olympic champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong from China leaving competition ice (for now).

Knierim and Frazier’s real test isn’t nationals. It’s worlds, where they will likely be the underdog to home favorites Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara, who edged the Americans by 1.3 points in the closest Grand Prix Final pairs’ competition in 12 years.

Nationals continue with the rhythm dance and women’s short program later Thursday.

NBC Sports’ Sarah Hughes (not the figure skater) contributed to this report.

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2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships scores, results

2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships
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Full scores and results from the 2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose …

Pairs Short Program
1. Alexa Knierim/Brandon Frazier — 81.96
2. Emily Chan/Spencer Howe — 66.86
3. Ellie Kam/Danny O’Shea —- 65.75
4. Valentina Plazas/Maximiliano Fernandez — 63.45
5. Sonia Baram/Danil Tioumentsev —- 63.12
6. Katie McBeath/Nathan Bartholomay —- 56.96
7. Nica Digerness/Mark Sadusky — 50.72
8. Maria Mokhova/Ivan Mokhov —- 46.96
9. Grace Hanns / Danny Neudecker — 46.81
10. Linzy Fitzpatrick/Keyton Bearinger — 45.27
11. Nina Ouellette/Rique Newby-Estrella — 43.99

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Broadcast Schedule | New Era for U.S.

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