Three weeks after star American sprinter Christian Coleman was reportedly facing a two-year ban for missing three drug tests in a year, he wants a public apology from the United States Anti-Doping Agency for publicizing false information.
In late August, reports surfaced that Coleman had missed three drug tests within 12 months due to “whereabout failures,” which triggers a minimum one-year ban. Athletes in the USADA testing pool are required to submit their schedules at the start of each quarter so that they can be located for random out-of-competition testing, including a one-hour block each day of the week where they “must be available and accessible” for a test.
USADA confirmed the violations two days after the original report surfaced. Coleman issued a public statement at that point, saying, “What has been widely reported about filing violations is simply not true.” The two parties set a hearing date for Sept. 4, with a decision expected to come the following day.
USADA clears Christian Coleman over a clerical detail
Days before the hearing, USADA dropped the case and cleared Coleman over a clerical technicality. Coleman’s first failure to report to his given whereabouts occurred on June 6, 2018. The next two were Jan. 16 and April 26, 2019.
Per the World Anti-Doping Agency rules, the date of a filing failure is set as the first day of the quarter during which the whereabouts failure occurred, meaning Coleman’s first test was backdated to April 1, 2018. Thus, his three missed tests did not occur within 12 months, and USADA dropped the case.
Coleman takes responsibility, laments damage to reputation
In a video released on his YouTube account Wednesday, Coleman explained his side of the situation, alleging that USADA’s lack of understanding of its own rules hurt his wallet and reputation.
“We knew the rules. 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,” he said.
Coleman says that the matter cost him at least $150,000 between missing two Diamond League meets in August and paying for legal counsel. He wants USADA to publicly admit its wrongdoing, as fans were quick to jump to conclusions about him after the organization confirmed the initial report.
“The smear of my reputation, that’s something you can’t put a dollar sign on,” he said. “I felt like I was being attacked, like they were trying to go after the biggest name in the sport.”
Coleman does take responsibility for failing to update his whereabouts on all three occasions (he says all three misses were for training or racing), and adds that on the third instance, he went and got himself tested “just for good measure.” He also said the doping control officer on the third test told him the miss would not count against him.
Coleman has been tested 12 times by USADA since the start of 2018 and says he gets tested 30-40 times per year in total.
The 23-year-old led the world’s 100m ranks for each of the past three seasons. Had he received a ban, he would have missed the upcoming 2019 IAAF World Championships as well as the 2020 Olympics.
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