Last fall, just before the 2019 Doha World Championships, Christian Coleman faced a possible ban from athletics due to missing 3 where about tests with the anti doping organizations.
Mr. Coleman was given a break by the U.S. Anti Doping organization, noting that one of his misses was not in the 12 month calendar year.
Well, the rumors on this most recent issue began last week, and the truth is, it should never have even happened.
Here’s my thoughts:
1. Christian Coleman missed 3 whereabouts tests , 6 June 2018, 16 January 2019 and 26 April 2019. The missing of 3 tests in a twelve month period is tantamount to a doping failure.
2. Coleman and his team were able to argue that, due to an error in the filing procedure, the whereabouts test in 2018 should be moved to day one of the quarter, which meant only two tests in one year and Mr. Coleman was able to go to Doha and take his gold in the 100m and 4x100m in the 2019 World Championships.
3. Now, one would expect, that after such a scare, both Christian Coleman and his management team would be extra vigilant, and stay in the place noted to AIU and the anti doping agencies for the entire hour on wherebouts testing, where one has to keep anti doping informed of whereabouts one hour a day between 5 am and 11 pm. Instead, Mr. Coleman noted that he was Christmas shopping.
4. If the December 2019 wherabouts miss is confirmed, Christian Coleman, the finest 100m sprinter in the world in the last 3 years, faces a possible two year ban from the sport. What does this mean? No 2021 Olympics, No 2022 championships. Two years of no racing because he either did not take the testing procedure seriously, or forgot.
5. The response by Christian Coleman is embarrasing. He blames AIU and the testers. Coleman notes that he was called all the other times and why was he not called in December? He was just five minutes away. While I think that the AIU should call, it is the nature of the beast. Other athletes have noted that no calls were made to them. AIU notes that calls are not part of the protocal. Coleman blew it. And, after the last crisis and considering the money he brings in alone, one is curious as to how and why Coleman’s management team was not taking it seriously.
I do not have an issue with Coleman asking about AIU using iphone locations, but, they do not yet at this time. He, like thousands of other athletes, need follow the rules. The majority of athletes show up for where about tests. For some reason, Mr. Coleman thought he was different, or just did not take it seriously. Now, he could loose 2 years of competition.
The whereabouts testing also blew it: they had the wrong address written down. All of this adds up to a stinker on both sides. The AIU needs to be above reproach and Coleman needed to be where he noted on the whereabouts updates.
This was Coleman’s response:
— Christian Coleman (@__coleman) June 16, 2020
6. The response to the provisional suspension has been swift. This just should not have happened. It is not about knowing wherabouts 24/7, it is one hour a day and updates can be done online. I have spoken to coaches, and athletes and it seems, while many get annoyed about it, it is part of the game and anti-doping program.
7. Michael Johnson, the 1996 Olympic double gold medalist, and former World record holder had much to say on this. The tweet is below and the link to his piece with Inside the Games is also posted. There has been some lively discussion on Johnson’s tweet:
After a close call last year for 3 whereabout failures or missed tests, for Coleman to allow this to happen again will lead people to believe either you’re doping or you don’t take seriously the anti-doping efforts of the sport. What reason do we have to believe otherwise? https://t.co/B5GOkCucfL
— Michael Johnson (@MJGold) June 17, 2020
8. In the end, an appreciation for the consequences of his actions and some management by his management team could have kept this nightmare from happening. The problem with a management team is that they have to say what the athlete does not want to hear. This is an aquired taste. My father had a saying, ” A man only gets in trouble when he believes his own bullshit.”
As Michael Johnson said, the clould is now there, either he did not take the testing seriously, or something worse. He spoke about the issue in a fine piece with Inside the Games: https://www.insidethegames.biz/articles/1095421/johnson-criticises-coleman-missed-test?fbclid=IwAR3K6gkFS2nTnEnhMgT9tQSZPVIADcoJD8HdkRBxMYeYWzpJKwVVguoeOG8.
It is one of the many reasons I have enjoyed speaking with Michael Johnson. Michael does not tolerate fools. He is also painfully honest and his commentary on this issue has been well done.
9. In my mind, Christian Coleman made a big mistake and he will have to pay for it. Coleman was not where he said he was to be. The AIU will be damaged as well. Why? Because of their amazing inability to comprehend that they must always be on the side of giving athletes the chance to do it right. The anti doping team was, well, sloppy.
10. This is going to leave a bad smell in athletics once again. It also lets us know that the majority of athletes follow the procedures, it is the price that they pay to be a professional athlete.
A good reading list:
June 18, 2020: Michael Johnson speaks on the Coleman issue: https://www.insidethegames.biz/articles/1095421/johnson-criticises-coleman-missed-test?fbclid=IwAR3K6gkFS2nTnEnhMgT9tQSZPVIADcoJD8HdkRBxMYeYWzpJKwVVguoeOG8
June 17, 2020: Coleman provisionally suspended over missed drugs tests: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2020/jun/17/christian-coleman-provisionally-suspended-over-missed-drugs-test
September 27, 2020: Coleman should not be face of sport, by Michael Johnson for BBC