Christian Coleman handed two-year ban, will miss Tokyo Olympics

To believe that the evidence supporting Christian Coleman’s two-year ban from track is flawed is to believe that the 24-year-old sprinter really has redefined the title “World’s Fastest Man.”

It’s to believe that within the span of 29 minutes last Dec. 9, Coleman bought dinner from a Chipotle near his house, hurried back home and ate it, watched the kickoff of “Monday Night Football,” then headed back bent a close-by Wal-Mart, where he purchased 16 items and verified .

“It would be simply impossible,” a panel of arbitrators wrote Tuesday in delivering a two-year sanction that, if upheld, will keep the 100-meter world champion out of next year’s Olympics.

Coleman’s agent, Emanuel Hudson, said the choice was “unfortunate and can be immediately appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.”

The episode last year marked Coleman’s third violation during a 12-month span of the anti-doping “whereabouts” system, which is meant to streamline the power for drug testers to succeed in the world’s best athletes without advance notice.

It’s a system that, for years now, has befuddled and bedeviled Coleman, who last year escaped a sanction on a technicality that happened due to imprecise language within the anti-doping rulebook.

He attempted to secure another reprieve — this point for the Dec. 9, 2019, failure — by saying he had been out Christmas shopping but was, indeed, home during the 60-minute window he gave to authorities.

But a key part of his alibi — that testers must have left his doorstep before the 7:15-8:15 window had run out — was disproved by nimble work from investigators. They tracked down receipts from a shopping trip that began, they said, no later than 7:13 p.m., and included stops at Chipotle (at 7:53 p.m.) and Wal-Mart (at 8:22) near Coleman’s house. They coupled the receipts with an image taken (at 8:21) by a tester sitting in his car ahead of the house, added it all up and caught the sprinter in what appears to be an embarrassing lie.

The arbitrators concluded that Coleman, rather than admitting fault, turned his wrath on the authorities, accused them of trying to trap him, “denied the offense, and persisted in an exculpatory version of events on what happened… that's simply untrue.”

One of Coleman’s key arguments was that he never received a call from the drug testers as his 60-minute window was winding down. But consistent with the principles , no call is important and, during this instance, testers had been specifically instructed to not call Coleman, partially due to his history of missed tests.

Even with the missed tests, Coleman saw the testers plenty in 2019. He was tested no fewer than 14 times by collectors from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, who did work both for the agency and on behalf of other agencies, including the Athletics Integrity Unit, which is handing down the two-year sanction.

That U.S. athletes are tested more frequently than athletes from many countries may be a source of frustration among some, who view the differing levels of thoroughness of anti-doping agencies round the globe as a fundamental flaw within the system.

Regardless, Coleman has long been within the crosshairs of testers due to his sustained success — he won a silver at worlds in 2017 — and maybe due to his established record of battling the whereabouts system.

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