USADA withdraws charge after receiving guidance from the World Anti-Doping Agency

American sprinter Christian Coleman can return to racing after the whereabouts violation case against him was withdrawn.

The world 100m leader, who has run 9.81 this year and broke the 60m indoor world record with 6.34 last year, had been charged with a potential anti-doping rule violation for failing to properly file his whereabouts information.

But on Monday the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced that it had withdrawn the charge after receiving guidance from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on the interpretation of the current International Standard for Testing and Investigations (ISTI) concerning the date on which a failure to update an athlete’s changed whereabouts information should be considered to have occurred.

A statement from USADA adds: “As a result of this interpretation, Coleman is not considered to have three whereabouts failures in a 12-month period and is not considered to have committed an anti-doping rule violation. Three whereabouts failures in a 12-month period is an anti-doping rule violation under Article 2.4 of the World Anti-Doping Code.”

WADA rules require athletes to submit their whereabouts for one hour every day, plus overnight accommodation and training information, in case they are needed for out-of-competition testing.

According to the statement, anti-doping rules state that the date of a missed test actually relates back to the first day of the relevant quarter.

Therefore, Coleman’s three missed tests are not considered part of the same 12-month period.

“USADA recorded a Filing Failure for Coleman on June 6, 2018, when a DCO (Doping Control Officer) attempted to test Coleman and discovered that he had failed to update his Whereabouts Filing to accurately reflect his location,” reads the USADA statement in part.

“Coleman was subsequently charged with Whereabouts Failures on January 16 and April 26, 2019. Based on these three failures USADA initiated a case against Coleman for three Whereabouts Failures in a 12-month period.

“However, based on a Comment in the ISTI that states that Filing Failures relate back to the first day of the quarter, Coleman contended that his failure to update which was discovered on June 6, 2018, should relate back to April 1, 2018, which would be more than 12 months prior to Coleman’s most recent Whereabouts Failure on April 26, 2019. As a result, USADA consulted with WADA to receive an official interpretation of the relevant Comment in the ISTI. This interpretation was received on Friday, August 30, 2019, and was that the Filing Failure which USADA had recorded in June 2018, should relate back to April 1, 2018, the first day of the quarter in which the failure to update occurred.

“Given these facts, USADA has determined that under the applicable rules, and in order to ensure that Coleman is treated consistently with other athletes under the World Anti-Doping Program, Coleman should not be considered to have three Whereabouts Failures in a 12-month period. Accordingly, USADA has withdrawn its charge that Coleman committed an anti-doping rule violation and has so notified WADA and the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

“USADA has determined that the hearing is no longer necessary, and Coleman is permitted to compete immediately. However, under the applicable rules USADA’s decision not to move forward on a potential rule violation against Coleman, is subject to appeal by the IAAF and/or WADA.”

USADA CEO Travis Tygart said: “Every athlete is entitled to a presumption of innocence until their case is concluded through the established legal process. This is certainly the case for Mr Coleman, who has been found by USADA not to have committed a Whereabouts Violation and is fully eligible to compete under the rules.”

In a statement given to Ato Boldon, the commentator and 1999 world 200m champion, last month, 2017 world silver medallist Coleman protested his innocence and said he was confident that he would be able to compete at the upcoming IAAF World Championships in Doha.

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