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.
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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