2019 IAAF World Championships

Christian Coleman Cleared, Will Compete At 2019 World Championships

Christian Coleman Cleared, Will Compete At 2019 World Championships

USADA dropped its case against Christian Coleman today. He is allowed to compete immediately, and will appear at the upcoming world championships.

Sep 2, 2019 by Jennifer Zahn

After nearly two weeks of speculation and uncertainty, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) dropped its case against Christian Coleman today, preserving the world's fastest man's eligibility to compete at the upcoming outdoor world championships and contend for the 2020 Olympic Games. 

On August 22, reports emerged that Coleman was facing suspension of up to two years for three whereabouts violations in a 12-month period. Two days later, USADA confirmed the violations, and Coleman responded publicly

But now, his arbitration hearing, originally scheduled for September 4 with the subsequent decision expected to arrive the following day, will no longer need to take place. 

And that's largely due to a squishy rule interpretation.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) requires that all athletes make themselves available to drug testers for one hour a day, 90 days in advance, for out-of-competition testing—missing tests, submitting inaccurate whereabouts information, or missing the deadline to file whereabouts, results in a violation; Coleman's violations were attributed to a filing failure. 

Per that rule, WADA states that a “filing failure will be deemed to have occurred on the first day of the quarter for which the Athlete fails to make a (sufficient) filing.”

Accordingly, WADA cited Coleman's first failure to report his whereabouts on April 1, 2018, rather than the date it actually occurred: June 6, 2018. The sprinter's final violation occurred on April 26, 2019.

Because three failures technically did not happen in 12 months, USADA dropped the case.

To avoid future confusion, the rule is being rewritten, and is anticipated to take effect in 2021.

"Consistent application of the global anti-doping rules is essential in every case,'' USADA CEO Travis Tygart said. "In this case, we applied the rules to Mr. Coleman in the manner that USADA understands should be applied to any other international-level athlete. We must approach every case with the primary goal of delivering fairness to athletes under the rules and providing transparency and consistency in order to build their trust and support for the anti-doping system.''

Although USADA has cleared Coleman, his case is subject to appeal by the IAAF and/or WADA.

Hours after the news surfaced that USADA dropped Coleman's case, the sprinter sent a message to the masses via Twitter:

Coleman, the reigning U.S. 100m champion, is currently the fastest man in the world over that distance and the heavy favorite heading into the 2019 IAAF World Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Doha, Qatar. He will also compete in the 200m and the 4x100m relay.

Since his silver medal at the 2017 World Championships in the 100m, Coleman has been the best man in the world at the event. Last year, he won the Diamond League final in a lifetime best of 9.79 and broke the world record indoors in the 60m. 

This season, he has the two fastest 100m times of the year, 9.81 and 9.85. At the USATF Championships in July, Coleman also placed second in the 200m. 

According to the USADA database, Coleman was tested at least nine times in 2018 and 11 times in 2019.