Why Did the World’s Fastest Man Miss Drug Tests — and a Shot at the Olympics?

“The Christian Coleman we all know does things the right way — from how he trains, to how he competes, to how he treats others,” Alford-Sullivan said.

As it usually does, Coleman’s testing regimen increased when he began to compete internationally at the senior level. The rules require athletes, at the beginning of each quarter, to submit to antidoping officials a schedule of where they plan to be each day for the next three months. Athletes can update their files as their plans change, but they must specify one hour each day when they will be at a certain location, sometime within the window between 5 a.m. and 11 p.m. local time.

If a doping control officer shows up during that hour to collect a urine or blood sample and the athlete is not there, it counts as a missed test. Officers must make a “reasonable attempt” to locate the athlete during that hour, though a phone call is not mandatory. If the officer shows up at another time but discovers the athlete is not in the area, the athlete is cited for a filing failure, which counts the same as a missed test. Accumulate three missed tests or filing failures within 12 months and the rules call for a suspension as long as two-years.

Coleman initially had a filing failure in June 2018, and then missed a test in January of 2019.

Then, just after noon on April 26, 2019, a doping control officer called Coleman from outside the athlete’s home in Lexington, Ky. Coleman was in Iowa watching the Drake Relays, a top collegiate meet. His whereabouts filing said he was supposed to be at home that day.

Coleman asked if there was anyone at the track meet who could collect a sample from him. The officer told him that was not allowed.

That seemed like it might be his third violation within 12 months, but the initial filing failure in June 2018 was backdated to April 1, giving Coleman another chance.

After he won gold at the world championships, doping officials warned Coleman that he was likely to face even more testing. His mother said she would occasionally remind him to make sure he was keeping his whereabouts up-to-date.


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