- Runner will miss next year’s scheduled Tokyo Olympics
- He narrowly avoided ban last year for missing drug tests
Christian Coleman, the world’s fastest man, will miss the Olympic Games next year after being told his explanation for one of three missed drug tests was “simply impossible” as he was handed a two-year doping ban.
The American sprinter, who powered to 100m victory at the world championships last year, had claimed he had been out Christmas shopping in December 2019 when testers arrived at his house, but had returned during the 60-minute time slot for testing.
Coleman also told investigators he had watched the kick-off of an American football game at 8.15pm – which, he claimed, meant a doping control officer must have clocked off early. But this explanation was emphatically rejected by an independent tribunal, which banned him until 13 May 2022.
“Shopping receipts show that the athlete was shopping at least from 7.13pm, also purchased a chipotle at 7.53pm and finally purchased 16 items from a Walmart Super Centre at 8.22pm,” the tribunal said. “The athlete’s evidence was that he returned home briefly some time between 8 and 8.10pm, ate his chipotle while watching the kick-off and then went out again. We do not accept the athlete’s evidence.
“It would have been simply impossible for him to purchase a chipotle at 7:53pm [the store being five-nine minutes to his residence], drive home, park the car, go into his residence, eat the chipotle, then watch the kick-off of the football game which only started at 8:15pm, and thereafter go out again in his car, drive to the store and pick up 16 items at the Walmart Supercenter so as to be able to pay for them by 8:22pm.”
The 24-year-old, who earns close to a seven-figure salary from his sponsor at Nike, was also told that if his explanation was true he should have seen the two doping control officers stationed outside his house.
“Two DCOs, who also did not discover him, stated that at no time was a light turned on in the house – on a dark December evening,” the tribunal stated.
“It is obvious that in fact the athlete did not go home until after making his 8:22pm purchase. We are comfortably satisfied that this is what happened.”
Coleman did not contest his first missed test on 16 January 2019 but disputed his filing failure on 26 April 2019 and whereabouts failure on 9 December. But the tribunal ruled against him, calling his attitude to his obligations “entirely careless, perhaps even reckless”.
“We understand that it is very difficult for a young man, blessed with the prodigious talent which the athlete obviously has, to find himself suddenly at the centre of the public gaze,” it added. “But success of this nature, and the financial rewards that follow, also give rise to responsibilities that must be taken seriously and observed, day after day, just as all other athletes in the Registered Testing Pool must do too.”
This year Coleman also criticised testers for not calling him when he was shopping to see where he was, as they had done on previous occasions. However, the tribunal ruled that testers were under no obligation to do this given they repeatedly knocked on his door instead.
Last year the American sprinter had narrowly escaped a suspension on a technicality for three whereabouts failures. And the panel admitted its surprise that he had not learned from his experience to take much greater care in future in relation to his filing and whereabouts information.
“In fact, that is not at all what happened,” the panel stated. “Despite the narrow escape from a potential ban and despite the fact that the athlete knew that he still had two whereabouts failures on his record, and – as he accepted in the hearing – was on high alert, by 9 December, the athlete went shopping throughout his 60-minute slot.”
Coleman, who has never failed a drug test, has 30 days to appeal against the ban to the court of arbitration for sport. He will appeal, “and this will be resolved well before the US Olympic trials”, Coleman’s lawyer, Howard Jacobs, has said.