In its report, the AIU’s disciplinary tribunal made clear Coleman had not failed a drug test and that it saw no evidence Coleman took illegal performance-enhancing drugs. But the three “whereabouts failures” in a one-year span still led to the ban.
Coleman will appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport “immediately,” agent Emanuel Hudson said in a statement. Hudson called the ruling “unfortunate” and said Coleman “has nothing further to say until such time as the matter can be heard in the Court of jurisdiction.”
In June, on behalf of World Athletics, the AIU charged Coleman with missing three drug tests and suspended him from competition pending a hearing. Coleman did not contest that he missed a test in January 2019. He argued that a filing failure in April 2019 and a missed test in December were unfair and owed to mistakes by the AIU. An arbiter heard the case Oct. 9.
When AIU announced its suspension in June, Coleman posted a lengthy note on Twitter claiming he had been wronged by the system. He said he was five minutes away from his apartment while Christmas shopping when a tester showed up to his house Dec. 9. Coleman claimed the tester made no attempt to reach him, and he was unaware the tester had come to his house until the next day. But an AIU spokesman at the time said athletes must be prepared for a drug tester to arrive randomly and that testers are instructed not to call athletes.
In the arbiter’s report, two testers said they arrived at Coleman’s home in Lexington, Ky., at 7:15 p.m. Dec. 9. Coleman had indicated he would be home that evening, and by rule he had a one-hour window to be tested. The testers said they knocked loudly every 10 minutes for an hour. Coleman insisted that could not be true, because he could remember watching the 8:15 kickoff of a “Monday Night Football” game between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles.
The report, though, cited receipts that disputed Coleman having been at his house during the one-hour window. Coleman made a purchase at Chipotle at 7:53 p.m. and bought 16 items at Walmart at 8:22, according to the AIU report.
“It would have been simply impossible for him to purchase a chipotle [sic] at 7:53 (the store being 5-9 minutes from his residence), drive home, park the car, go into his residence, eat the chipotle [sic], then watch the kick-off of the football game which only started at 8:15, and thereafter go out again in his car, drive to the store, and pick up 16 items at the Walmart Supercenter so as to be able to pay for them by 8:22 p.m.,” the report reads.
While Coleman complained that the testers never called him, AIU rules do not stipulate athletes must be called if not home. Raphaël Roux, an AIU manager for out-of-competition testing, told the arbiter that the AIU instructed testers not to call Coleman because he had missed four tests previously and that the AIU sensed Coleman may have been alerted before taking other tests, according to the report.
Coleman had previously been under scrutiny for missing tests. In August 2019, he was suspended for missing three tests in a calendar year. The decision was overturned on a technicality — the date of his filing failure was officially moved to more than a year after his first whereabouts failure, which allowed him to compete at the U.S. and world championships. But the Dec. 9 missed test triggered another suspension.
Coleman, 24, ran the 100 in a personal-best 9.76 seconds to win the world championship in September 2019 in Qatar. He beat silver medalist Justin Gatlin, who once served a four-year ban for doping violations.
Coleman would have been the likely favorite in the 100 in Tokyo and would have also been one of American Noah Lyles’s biggest challengers in the 200. Barring an appeal, Coleman will not get the chance to compete, and one of track’s emerging stars will have to watch its biggest event.
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