Missed tests saga taints Chris Coleman's 100m world title
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DOHA – What a difference one month can make.
In late August American sprinter Christian Coleman's career was in
shambles as he faced a ban for missing three doping tests.
On Saturday night he became the new sprint king of the world in
succession of Usain Bolt, at least on the track.
Coleman beat Bolt for silver, behind Justin Gatlin, in the great
Jamaican's last 100 metres race at the 2017 worlds.
The 23-year-old went on to claim the world indoor title and lowered
his personal best to 9.79 seconds last year, and leading the way a
third straight season was the man to beat in Doha.
But all that was in jeopardy when the US anti-doping body USADA said
in late August it was investigating because he was suspected to have
missed three doping tests within one year which triggers an automatic
one-year ban and would have made him miss Doha and the 2020 Olympics.
However, the World Anti-Doping Agency then ended the case by
clarifying that so-called filing failures are dated to the first day
of a quarter and not the actual date - which in Cleman's case meant
he didn't miss three tests in one year.
That allowed him to run in Doha where he was imperious in all rounds
from the heats (9.98) and semi-finals (9.88) to the final where he
stormed away from all rivals to win in a personal best 9.76 seconds.
"I've been blessed with incredible talent and tonight I was able to
show it," he said after the final at half-empty Khalifa International
Stadium which was hyped by a spectacular pre-race laser and light
show in the build-up, including all finalists' names beamed onto the
"It was a crazy feeling. To add my name to the list of the legendary
guys who've come before me is an honour and a blessing. It's a great
feeling, too good to be true. To make it here and come out with gold
Coleman added he didn't want to be compared with Bolt, saying: "I
don't think anyone will be able to reciprocate what he did in the
sport. All you can do is be the best you can be and not try to be
However, whether he also qualifies to be the new face of the 100m or
of athletics in general remains debatable because of the missed
"It completely disqualifies him, at this point, from ever being that
face of the sport. This will follow him, as it should," was the blunt
assessment of former 200m and 400m great Michael Johnson to the BBC.
"I think this is an incredibly important issue around the sport
because Christian Coleman was being touted to replace Usain Bolt as
the big star of the sport."
Coleman's victory in Doha follows that of Gatlin in London which was
marred by jeers because the 37-year-old has served two doping bans
which have made him a villain of sorts, as opposed to the almighty
Bolt who never failed a drug test.
Nor has Coleman, who demanded an apology from USADA after being
cleared, speaking of "a shame" but in general seemed unfazed by the
controversy, including a barrage of questions at the post-race news
conference when he also dismissed Johnson's remarks.
"Michael Johnson doesn't pay my bills or sign my cheques so I don't
necessarily care what he has to say," he said.
"I guess I can be more mature about it and more diligent about
updating the system, but I did everything the right way and tried to
be a model citizen and a good model for the sport."
Other athletes have also been critical of Coleman and Britain's
Guardian paper grudgingly acknowledged on its website he was probably
now a face of the sport, "for better or worse."
But Coleman also got some support right from the top of the sport in
the form of IAAF president Sebastian Coe.
While noting that "one missed whereabouts should ring serious alarm
bells" he named the final dropping of the case "a grown-up" and
"sensible approach" on Friday and said Coleman had every right to
excel in Doha.
"I am pleased Coleman is here and I want to make sure he is given
every opportunity to be one of the faces of these championships," Coe
Said Coleman: "I think the face of the sport goes to the people who
are putting up good performances and representing the sport in the