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Christian Coleman was considered a gold medal favorite for the upcoming world championships.

By Chris Chavez
August 22, 2019

U.S. sprinter Christian Coleman is possibly facing a suspension from competition after missing three drug tests over a 12-month span, according to the Associated Press

Rumors within the track and field community picked up steam on Wednesday regarding possible anti-doping violations by a prominent U.S. sprinter. Matt Lawton of the Daily Mail was the first to publicly name Coleman in a report published on Thursday morning. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has not confirmed or discussed Coleman's specific case yet.

According to USADA's Athlete Test History, Coleman has been tested 11 times in 2019, nine times in 2018, three times in 2017, twice in 2016 and once in 2015. Athletes in USADA's drug-testing pool are required by the World Anti-Doping Agency to share and update their whereabouts for a one-hour period so that they may be available to be drug tested while outside of competition. Failure to comply with the testing obligations could lead to a whereabouts failure. Three whereabouts failures, which can come as a result of a filing failure or a missed test, could trigger a potential anti-doping rules violation and a suspension of up to two years.

Lawton reported that Coleman's legal team is disputing one of the whereabouts failures in an effort to get the possible suspension overturned. WADA, USADA and the International Association of Athletics Federation's Athletics Integrity Unit are also examining the case.

Coleman, 23, won the 100 meters at the 2019 U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Des Moines in July and holds the world's fastest time in the 100 meters in 2019 with a 9.81 from the Prefontaine Classic in June. Coleman has won five of his six races over 100 meters in 2019, with his only loss coming to fellow U.S. sprints star Noah Lyles at the Shanghai Diamond League on May 18. He also qualified for the 200 meters at the world championships with a runner-up finish to Lyles at the U.S. championships.

Coleman pulled out of last week's Diamond League meet in Birmingham, England "as a result of complications occurring after practice this week."

A Coleman suspension would be a major blow for the United States' sprints, as the rising star was expected to be a possible favorite for gold at the world championships and possibly the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. A two-year suspension would knock him out of both events.

Coleman was a member of the 2016 U.S. Olympic team when he was picked as the sixth and final member of the United States' 4x100-meter relay pool. He had finished sixth individually in the 100-meter final at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials. Coleman returned to Tennessee after the Rio Olympics and won the 2017 NCAA outdoor track and field titles in the 100 and 200 meters. He went viral after posting a video of him running a 4.12 40-yard dash, which is one-tenth of a second faster than the NFL Combine's record. He turned professional and signed a reportedly seven-figure professional contract with Nike before he won silver in the 100 at the 2017 world championships. He finished behind Justin Gatlin and ahead of Usain Bolt in London.

Coleman also won gold in the 60 meters at the 2018 IAAF World Indoor Championships. He holds the world record in the indoor 60 with a 6.34 from the 2018 U.S. Indoor Track and Field Championships.

Last August, Coleman ran 9.79 into a headwind at the Brussels Diamond League to tie Maurice Greene for the seventh-fastest man in history over 100 meters. Tyson Gay (9.69) and Gatlin (9.74) are the only American men to have run faster. Of the top 10 all-time 100-meter runners in history, Bolt would be the only runner to have never been suspended or connected to any doping violations.

In an interview last month, Bolt praised Coleman's ability to start races. 

"He’s a kid that you can tell has no fear," Bolt told Sports Illustrated. "From competing with him at the world championships, I can tell you that he has no fear. He wants to compete and that’s a big thing. He’s a very good starter and undoubtedly one of the best that I’ve ever seen competing."

If Coleman misses the world championships in Doha, Gatlin could be the favorite to defend his 100-meter gold medal despite being 37 years old. He has raced sparingly in 2019 to save himself for the world championships and his 9.87 from the Prefontaine Classic, where he lost to Coleman by .06 seconds, is the fourth-fastest time of the year. Gatlin was met with boos from the crowd when he beat Bolt to win gold and then when he received his medal at the 2017 world championships in London. Gatlin served a four-year suspension for testosterone from 2006 to 2010, where he alleges that he was sabotaged by a massage therapist. He previously tested positive in 2002 for amphetamines because he was taking Adderall to treat attention deficit disorder. He was banned for one year before the suspension was later reduced to one.

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