© Copyright – 2019 – Athletics Illustrated
Twenty-three year old Christian Coleman of Atlanta, Georgia is at risk of receiving a two-year sanction by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) for missing three out of competition drug tests during 2019. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules make it clear that missing three tests in one 12-month period could result in a two-year suspension.
Coleman has run the 100m distance as fast as 9.79 in 2018 and 9.81 in 2019, which makes his the fastest active sprinter in the world. He was expected to compete in next month’s Doha world championships as well as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics; he is at risk of missing both.
However, it is quite possible that he will receive a reduced suspension or no suspension at all. His team must convince USADA that one of the whereabouts failures was not his fault. Additionally, there is the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which provides athletes an independent vehicle to contest a sentence.
The wording of the whereabouts documentation by USADA and WADA leaves an opportunity for an athlete to avoid suspension:
Can an athlete get an Anti-Doping Rule Violation for Whereabouts Failures?
Yes. Any accumulation of three Missed Tests or Filing Failures in a 12-month period can result in a potential ADRV and a period of ineligibility of up to two years for a first violation.
For clarity, the answer states “can result in a potential,” which is not definitive. And “up to two years,” leaves some ambiguity in regards to the length of the sentence.
In global championships and Diamond League meets, the biggest draw is often the 100m sprint and the fastest in that event is typically on the event’s marketing collateral. It may be viewed as poor timing to suspend Christian Coleman before next month’s championships.
Coleman’s team is currently fighting a potential ban.
Coleman has been successfully tested 11 times so far this year.
WADA and USADA require select top athletes in the Whereabouts Program to be available during a one-hour window every day.
Unless he provides a valid reason for missing the test, he should be suspended for two years starting immediately.
Evading testers is not new to sprinters and field event athletes. They appear to be the most likely to contravene the Whereabouts Program.
In 2012, Jarrod Bannister of Australia, a javelin thrower served an 18-month suspension for three missed tests. In 2011, Damien Broothaerts of Belgium missed three tests, and then when successfully tested, turned in a positive result for Methylhexanamine. He received just a one-year ban.
A case of an American sprinter facing a two-year ban happened in 2012 when Shawn Crawford struck out three times. The next year fellow American triple jumper Walter Davies received a one-year suspension. Also, Mark Jelks in 2010, an American sprinter missed three tests. He was suspended for two years.
Swiss sprinter Cedric Nabe missed three times in 2011 and earned an 18-month sentence, which was later reduced to one-year through an appeal process with the CAS. Sprinter Christine Ohuruogu of Great Britain missed three in 2006 and earned a one-year suspension.
Hurdler Gregory Sedoc of the Netherlands earned a one-year holiday in 2011 for evading testers three times. And then there is the famous great escape by Greece’s Katerini Thanou, a 100m and 200m sprinter, evading testers in 2004 at the Athens Games. She claims to have left the athlete’s village at a time that contradicts what observers saw. She then apparently sped away on a motorcycle. She earned a two-year punishment. She claims that she was with Costas Kenteris and that they were in a motorcycle accident. They were later charged and convicted with staging the accident, which was later overturned.