MONACO — Men’s 100-metre world champion Christian Coleman was banned for two years on Tuesday and lost his chance to succeed Usain Bolt as the fastest man at the Olympic Games.
Track and field’s Athletics Integrity Unit said it banned the American sprinter for two years, until May 13, 2022, because of three violations of doping control rules.
Coleman missed two visits by sample collection officials and failed to file correct information on another occasion, all in 2019 — the year he won his first world title.
“We see this case as involving behaviour by the athlete as very careless at best and reckless at worst,” the three-person judging panel said in its published ruling.
Coleman can appeal against his ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The 24-year-old Coleman had been provisionally suspended from competition since May. Weeks later, details of his three so-called “whereabouts failures” were revealed.
Athletes face a two-year ban if they have three violations in a 12-month period.
A previous similar case against Coleman was dropped weeks before the 2019 world championships in Doha, Qatar.
That cleared him to take gold in the individual 100 and 4×100 relay and establish him as favourite to win titles at the Tokyo Olympics which have been postponed to next year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Jamaican icon Bolt won the marquee 100-metre dash at the past three Summer Games.
Coleman would have posed stiff competition for Canadian Andre De Grasse.
De Grasse won bronze in the 2019 world 100 metres behind Coleman and American Justin Gatlin.
At the 2016 Rio Olympics, De Grasse captured silver in the 200 and bronze in the 100 and 4×100 relay, while Coleman only ran the relay. The U.S. was disqualified.
Coleman is a year younger than De Grasse, who’s 25. De Grasse launched himself onto the sport’s radar by winning the 100 and 200 at the 2015 NCAA championships. Coleman did the same thing two years later.
The judges said there was no suggestion Coleman ever took a banned substance. However, even the panel noted Coleman was in a pool of top-level athletes targeted for no-notice testing since 2016 and “has received anti-doping education for a number of years.”
“The evidence indicated a complete failure to (comply with the rules) by the athlete,” the judges said.
Coleman previously wrote in his blog that his third and decisive whereabouts failure — on Dec. 9 last year — occurred when drug testers showed up at his residence while he was Christmas shopping.
Elite athletes are required to fill out a “whereabouts form” to make it possible for anti-doping authorities to carry out surprise testing outside of competition.
A violation means an athlete either did not fill out forms telling authorities where they could be found, or that they weren’t where they said they would be when testers arrived.
Coleman also got silver in the 100 and relay at the 2017 worlds in London.
—With files from The Canadian Press
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