Christian Coleman,left, crosses the finish line to win the men's 100 meter race ahead of silver medalist Justin Gatlin. Photo: Martin Meissner/AP Photo
Christian Coleman,left, crosses the finish line to win the men's 100 meter race ahead of silver medalist Justin Gatlin. Photo: Martin Meissner/AP Photo

Missed tests saga taints Chris Coleman's 100m world title

By Time of article published Sep 29, 2019

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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

track.

"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

is incredible."

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

like him."

However, whether he also qualifies to be the new face of the 100m or

of athletics in general remains debatable because of the missed

tests.

"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.

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

right way."

dpa

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