By Gene Cherry
(Reuters) – World 100 meters favorite Christian Coleman is eligible to compete in this month’s world championships and the 2020 Olympics after a whereabouts charge against the American sprinter was withdrawn by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) on Monday.
USADA had charged Coleman with three failures to properly file whereabouts information in a 12-month period, a potential anti-doping violation, and the case had been scheduled to go to arbitration on Wednesday.
But USADA, after receiving guidance from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on how to calculate the 12-month window, withdrew the charge.
“Every athlete is entitled to a presumption of innocence until their case is concluded through the established legal process,” USADA CEO Travis Tygart said in a statement.
“This is certainly the case for Mr. Coleman, who has been found by USADA not to have committed a whereabouts violation and is fully eligible to compete under the rules.”
USADA added that in 2018 and 2019 Coleman has provided his whereabouts information by the start of each quarter and has been tested on 20 separate occasions by the U.S. agency.
Coleman said he now looked forward to representing the United States in the 100 and 200 meters at the Sept. 27-Oct 6 world championships in Doha.
“While this ordeal has been frustrating and I have missed some competitions that I should not have had to miss, I know that I have never taken any banned substances, and that I have never violated any anti-doping rule,” the year’s fastest man and 2017 world 100 meters silver medalist said in a statement.
Coleman had been charged because athletes are required to notify anti-doping officials where they can be reached for a certain period daily.
If testers are unable to contact the athlete at the designated location three times within a 12-month period, he is considered to have committed an anti-doping violation and subject to a ban of up to two years.
Coleman had whereabouts failures on June 6, 2018 and January 16 and April 26, 2019, USADA said.
However, under International Standard for Testing and Investigations (ISTI) guidelines, the first failure is backdated to the first day of the quarter, which in Coleman’s case would have been April 1, 2018.
Thus his April 2019 failure fell outside the 12-month window and was not considered an anti-doping violation.
“USADA has determined that under the applicable rules, and in order to ensure that Coleman is treated consistently with other athletes under the World Anti-Doping Program, Coleman should not be considered to have three whereabouts failures in a 12-month period,” the agency said.
“Accordingly, USADA has withdrawn its charge that Coleman committed an anti-doping rule violation.”
The case is still subject to appeal by WADA or the International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) Athletics Integrity Unit but that is unlikely.
(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Ken Ferris/Amlan Chakraborty)