Christian Coleman, the fastest man in the world, narrowly beat out a drug case in a race to get it resolved before the world championships. He was facing a two-year suspension for missing three dug tests, but the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced Monday that it was withdrawing its case against Coleman because it found that the first and third violations were technically more than a year apart.
Coleman, 23, took silver in the 100 meters at the last world championships in 2017. He was facing a two-year suspension for the missed tests, which would have kept him out of 2019 worlds and the 2020 Olympics.
His 9.79 100m last year makes him the seventh-fastest man of all time, and he’s run the fastest time in the world in the event in each of the last three years.
The doping case centered on what are known as “whereabouts failures.” Olympic athletes in the United States are required to logged their planned location with USADA, and update them if they’re inaccurate. Coleman missed tests on June 6, 2018; January 16, 2019; and April 26, 2019. But his June 2018 missed test stemmed from a “filing failure,” meaning Coleman’s original sin was not completing a quarterly “Whereabouts Filing.”
USADA announced today that international drug-testing codes say that failures to file are charged to the first day of that quarter — meaning Coleman’s June 6 violation was actually a June 1 violation. And that means his three violations occurred over 12 months and 26 days — just over the 12 months required to trigger a suspension.
The news of a possible Coleman suspension broke August 22, and he had not competed since then. Today’s ruling means that Coleman is free to race at the world championships, which begin in Doha on September 27. Coleman is the favorite in the 100 meters and among the medal favorites in the 200 meters.