Defending champion Justin Gatlin finished second in the 100 meters.
DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Christian Coleman of the United States won the world championship gold medal in the men’s 100 meters Saturday, three weeks after avoiding a ban for missed drug tests.
Coleman started well and extended his lead down the stretch to win in 9.76 seconds. Defending champion Justin Gatlin finished second in the marquee event of the championships. Andre de Grasse of Canada was third.
“At the end, all my worries just evaporated out there,” said Coleman, 23. “It was a crazy feeling. To add my name to the list of the legendary guys who’ve come before me is an honor and a blessing.”
In 2017, Coleman was the silver medalist behind his American teammate Gatlin, both beating Usain Bolt in his last individual race. In Doha, they ran side-by-side, but the 37-year-old Gatlin never really threatened.
Gatlin said he had reached out to support Coleman when the younger runner faced a potential ban.
“Justin Gatlin is a great guy and a great competitor,” Coleman said. “He’s always been there. I remember watching him back in 2004, when I was 8 years old, and to think all these years later, I could come and win gold too is a great feeling.”
Coleman beat his personal best by 0.03 seconds to become the sixth-fastest man in history, overtaking Nesta Carter and Maurice Greene in the all-time standings.
It was the first world 100 final since 2005 without Bolt. The legendary Jamaican sprinter’s world record of 9.58, now a decade old, was 0.18 faster than Coleman’s time.
From Atlanta, Coleman won NCAA titles in the 100 and 200 for the University of Tennessee in 2017. He took the U.S. title in the 100 in July. He’ll run in the 200 meter heats Sunday.
Coleman was initially charged with failing to provide accurate information on his whereabouts for drug testing, missing three tests over 12 months.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has never reported a positive drug test for Coleman. The agency said Coleman has been tested on 20 separate occasions in 2018 and 2019. He missed a drug test on April 26, his third missed test since June 2018.
But the World Anti-Doping Agency’s interpretation of the rule backdated his first failure to April 1, 2018, instead of the date it occurred, June 6, 2018. On Sept. 2, USADA said that technicality meant there weren’t three failures within 12 months, and it would not pursue the case.
In contrast to the boos that greeted Gatlin’s victory in London two years ago — a reference to his two previous suspensions for doping — the reception for Coleman was warm at the lightly attended event in the Qatari capital.
Many seats in the 40,000-capacity Khalifa International Stadium were covered with awnings and a number of spectators from African countries left after the earlier women’s 10,000 meters.
Earlier, DeAnna Price became the first U.S. woman ever to win a world championship throwing event with victory in the hammer. The two-time NCAA champion from Moscow Mills, Missouri, threw 77.54 meters, beating Poland’s Joanna Fiodorow and China’s Zheng Wang.
Less than five months after making her debut in the 10,000, Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands won the world title.
Born in Ethiopia before moving to the Netherlands in 2008 aged 15, Hassan had won medals at shorter distances before moving up this season.
“I am very happy because I have been a middle-distance runner and this was a test for me,” she said. Hassan is now considering whether to attempt a double in the 1,500 or 5,000 but admitted she was fatigued. Both events have heats Wednesday.
Bolt’s fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake was just fifth in the 100, but the nation still ended the day with a gold medal as Tajay Gayle won the long jump. His jump of 8.69 meters gave the nation known for sprinters its first world title in a field event. Jeff Henderson of the U.S. was second and Cuba’s Juan Miguel Echevarria third.
Men and women raced each other on the track for the first time at worlds with the introduction of the 4x400 mixed relay, an Olympic event next year.
The United States’ two men and two women set the fastest time to date in the new event, which featured the novelty of a Japanese male runner speeding past a crowd of female athletes, before his female teammate dropped from first to last on the next lap.
The men’s and women’s 50-kilometer walks are later Friday.