Christian Coleman’s ban reduced, will still miss Olympics

Christian Coleman
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Christian Coleman, the Olympic 100m favorite before being banned last year over missed drug tests, had his suspension reduced from two years to 18 months on appeal. He will still miss the Tokyo Games.

“While I appreciate that the arbitrators correctly found that I am a clean athlete, I am obviously disappointed that I will miss the Olympic Games this summer,” Coleman, the 2019 World champion, said in a statement, his first public acknowledgement that he will not compete in Tokyo. “I look forward to representing the United States at both World Championships in 2022 [indoors and outdoors], especially the first ever World Championships held in the United States next summer where I plan to defend my world title against a new Olympic champion in the 100 meters.”

A Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) panel cut Coleman’s ban from the maximum two years to 18 months, deciding his degree of negligence was lower than previously found.

Coleman is suspended into mid-November 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 like Coleman.

Coleman was provisionally banned on May 14, 2020, five months after the last missed test. Then, after a hearing, he was given the full two-year suspension in late October, retroactively dated to May 14. 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, 2019, his last of three strikes.

Coleman appealed to CAS, hoping to get the ban reduced to be eligible for June’s Olympic Trials. A hearing was held in February.

“The athlete should have been on ‘high-alert’ on that day [Dec. 9], given the two existing whereabout failures against him,” according to CAS.

Coleman has never failed a drug test. The CAS panel reinforced that it believes Coleman is a clean athlete who did not avoid being tested.

The panel also was sympathetic to Coleman’s assertion that he did not receive a phone call from the drug tester in an attempt to find him. A call is not required, but Coleman said that he received calls every other time he was not at home for a drug test.

“Closer examination of the training material in fact suggests that the training received by the athlete reinforced the practice of a DCO [doping control officer] placing a call before the expiry of the 60-minute slot,” according to excerpts of the CAS decision published by Coleman’s agency.

Coleman, 25, 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 in 2019 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 2020 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. “Of course, that’s he said, she said. It’s not really much I can do. There’s no real proof of that.”

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 2020 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 2020 decision. “We are comfortably satisfied that this is what happened.”

Neither the 2020 tribunal nor Friday’s CAS release mentioned Coleman’s other assertion, that the address on the missed drug test report was incorrect — “He messed up the two or three words in my address,” Coleman previously said. “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 in 2019 — 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.

Had Coleman’s suspension started on or shortly after Dec. 9, he would still be eligible for the Olympics.

Suspensions generally do not start on the date of the last missed test for procedural reasons but can be backdated “if there are substantial delays in the hearing process that are not attributable to the athlete,” according to the Athletics Integrity Unit, which handles such cases for track and field, “but there were no such delays in this case.”

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 in 2019 was Noah Lyles, the world 200m champion who is bidding for the same Olympic triple.

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Summer McIntosh, Canadian teen swimmer, caps record year with another historic time

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Summer McIntosh swam the fourth-fastest 400m individual medley in history on Friday, capping a year that already included world titles, Commonwealth Games titles and a victory over Katie Ledecky.

McIntosh, a 16-year-old Canadian whose mom swam at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, won the 400m IM in 4 minutes, 28.61 seconds at the U.S. Open in Greensboro, N.C. She prevailed by a Ledecky-like 13.24 seconds, breaking her own national record that was previously the fourth-fastest time in history.

“It’s still pretty early in the season, so I didn’t really know what to expect going into it,” she said on Peacock.

The only two women who ever went faster in the event known as the decathlon of swimming are Olympic gold medalists: Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu (world record 4:26.36 and 4:28.58) and China’s Ye Shiwen (4:28.43).

McIntosh has come a long way in a short time. Three years ago, she put all her eggs in the 1500m freestyle basket, thinking it was her best shot to merely qualify for the Tokyo Games in 2020. The one-year Olympic postponement was a blessing.

The rapidly improving McIntosh swam three individual events in Tokyo with a top finish of fourth in the 400m free, just missing becoming the youngest swimming medalist since 1996. She then told her coach she wanted to become an IMer.

At this past June’s world championships, McIntosh won two of the most grueling events — 400m IM and 200m butterfly — to become the youngest individual world champion since 2011. She also took silver to Ledecky in the 400m free, an event in which she later beat Ledecky in a short-course meet (25-meter pool rather than the 50-meter pool used for the Olympics).

A month after worlds, McIntosh swept the IMs at the Commonwealth Games, where she broke more world junior records and again took second in the 400m free (this time to Olympic champ and world record holder Ariarne Titmus of Australia).

McIntosh, who turned professional last year, now trains full-time in Sarasota, Florida, where she rents a house with her mom, Jill Horstead, who was ninth in the 200m fly at the 1984 Olympics (McIntosh, whose passions include the Kardashians and plants from Target, has seen video of her mom winning the B final at those Games). They’re a three-hour drive down Interstate 75 from Ledecky’s base in Gainesville.

Also Friday, Erin Gemmell celebrated her 18th birthday by nearly becoming the first American to beat Ledecky in a 200m freestyle in nearly nine years. Ledecky won by 42 hundredths of a second in 1:56.74 and said she had an off-day while also praising Gemmell, the daughter of her former coach.

NBC airs U.S. Open highlights on Dec. 10 at 4:30 p.m. ET.

U.S. OPEN SWIMMING: Full Results

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Kaillie Humphries begins trek to 2026 Winter Olympics with monobob World Cup win

Kaillie Humphries
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Kaillie Humphries is off to a strong start to a four-year cycle that she hopes ends with her breaking the record as the oldest female Olympic bobsledder.

Humphries, the women’s record holder with three Olympic bobsled titles, earned her first World Cup victory since February’s Winter Games, taking a monobob in Park City, Utah, on Friday.

Humphries, the first Olympic monobob champion, prevailed by .31 of a second over German Lisa Buckwitz combining times from two runs at the 2002 Olympic track.

Humphries has said since February’s Olympics that she planned to take time off in this four-year cycle to start a family, then return in time for the 2026 Milano-Cortina Winter Games. Humphries, who can become the first female Olympic bobsledder in her 40s, shared her experiences with IVF in the offseason on her social media.

“We’ve pushed pause so that I could go and compete this season, maintain my world ranking to be able to still work towards my 2026 goals, and we’ll go back in March to do the implantation of the embryos that we did retrieve,” she said, according to TeamUSA.org.

The next Games come 20 years after her first Olympic experience in Italy, which was a sad one. Humphries, then a bobsled push athlete, was part of the Canadian delegation at the 2006 Torino Games, marched at the Opening Ceremony and had her parents flown in to cheer her on.

But four days before the competition, Humphries learned she was not chosen for either of the two Canadian push athlete spots. She vowed on the flight home to put her future Olympic destiny in her own hands by becoming a driver.

She has since become the greatest female driver in history — Olympic golds in 2010, 2014 and 2022, plus five world championships.

Her longtime rival, five-time Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor, plans to return to competition from her second childbirth later in this Olympic cycle and can also break the record of oldest female Olympic bobsledder.

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