American sprinter faces a potential ban after a third whereabouts failure, which he heavily disputes, in 12 months
World 100m champion Christian Coleman has been provisionally suspended for whereabouts failures, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) has announced.
In a lengthy statement released on social media on Tuesday, Coleman said that he has been appealing a missed drugs test from December, which was his third whereabouts failure within 12 months and could lead to a potential ban.
— Christian Coleman (@__coleman) June 16, 2020
Under World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules, athletes are required 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.
An athlete is said to have violated anti-doping rules if they have any combination of three missed tests or filing failures within a 12-month period, starting on the day of the first relevant missed test or filing failure.
According to Coleman’s statement, the American sprinter had previously missed a test on January 16, 2019, and logged a filing failure on April 26, 2019.
But he heavily disputes the missed drugs test recorded on December 9, 2019, when he says he was Christmas shopping “5 mins away at the mall”, adding that the doping control officer (DCO) “didn’t even bother to call me or attempt to reach me”.
Coleman also claims that the DCO wrote the wrong address on his unsuccessful attempt report and that he has been contacted by phone “literally every other time” he has been tested, however it is not a requirement for the DCO to call an athlete if they are not found at the designated location.
In his statement, Coleman added: “I think the attempt on December 9 was a purposeful attempt to get me to miss a test.
“I have never and will never use performance enhancing supplements or drugs. I am willing to take a drug test EVERY single day for the rest of my career for all I care to prove my innocence.”
The AIU will not comment on the specifics of an ongoing case and has not issued a response to Coleman’s claims, but confirmed his provisional suspension in a tweet on Wednesday morning.
The AIU confirms a provisional suspension against Christian Coleman of the USA for whereabouts failures, a violation of the @WorldAthletics Anti-Doping Rules.
Find out more ⬇️https://t.co/opInfkVlnV#AIUNews#CleanSport pic.twitter.com/JPMAh41Eke
— Athletics Integrity Unit (@aiu_athletics) June 17, 2020
Under anti-doping rules, athletes can be tested by an international body, such as the AIU, WADA or the International Olympic Committee, as well as their own national anti-doping organisation or the national anti-doping organisation of the country that they are in at the time, if different.
Highlighting the AIU’s procedures on out-of-competition testing in an email sent to AW on Wednesday, the unit said: “Testing conducted by the AIU is on a no-advanced notice basis and instructions not to make any phone call to an athlete are given to doping control officers by the AIU (with limited exceptions).
“The World Anti-Doping Agency’s International Standard for Testing and Investigations and the associated guidelines make it expressly clear that (i) a phone call is discretionary and not a mandatory requirement, and (ii) proof that a telephone call was made is not a requisite element of a missed test and the lack of any telephone call does not give the athlete a defence to the assertion of a missed test.”
A previous whereabouts violation case against Coleman was withdrawn last year after a filing failure was backdated.
Many athletes have reacted to the latest news, with 2011 world 1500m silver medallist Hannah England, who is chair of the UK Athletics Athlete Commission, writing on Twitter: “Whereabouts can feel invasive and be stressful – particularly with travel. But it is ONE HOUR A DAY, not all day every day. An inconvenience that is worth it to protect clean sport. Going shopping during your slot when you are on two missed test is taking a huge risk with your career.”
Britain’s European and Commonwealth long jump medallist Jazmin Sawyers wrote: “As athletes we have few genuine responsibilities. The one biggie we do have is to give the drug testers one hour a day when we’re going to be at an address, and then to be there for that hour. It’s annoying but not difficult. One hour. Choose 6-7am and make life easy for yourself.”
While Olympic and world medallist Eilidh Doyle wrote: “Even when I was in hospital for three days, having my baby, my first thought was I better update my whereabouts. It’s just what has to be done to ensure credibility within our sport.”