World 100m champion Christian Coleman banned for two years

By Sports Desk October 27, 2020

World 100 metres champion Christian Coleman has been given a two-year ban from athletics for missing three drugs tests in the space of 12 months. 

The American, who has the right to appeal against the ruling made by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), stands to miss the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year. 

The 24-year-old was provisionally suspended in June for whereabouts failures but disputed the third of those. He took responsibility for the first missed test on January 16, 2019 and claimed the second, on April 26 of the same year, was due to "a filing failure". 

Coleman said he was only notified of the third missed test on December 10, the following day. He said he had been out Christmas shopping but returned during the one-hour window to be tested and questioned why he was not contacted by telephone by the tester. 

In a lengthy Twitter post, he said: "I've been contacted by phone literally every other time I've been tested. Literally, Idk [I don't know] why this time was different. 

"He even said he couldn't hear the doorbell so why wouldn't you call me? Why would AIU tell him not to contact me? He put down the wrong address btw [by the way] so who knows if he even came to my spot. 

"That night I have multiple receipts of going shopping then getting food and coming back during this time, so I don't think he stayed for an hour and WHY WOULD AIU TELL HIM NOT TO CALL ME?! 

"The AIU has to stop playing, man. Two days later they came back to test me…and followed the normal protocol and called and of course there were no issues with my test. And I've been tested multiple times since, even during quarantine. 

"But of course that doesn't matter, and the fact that I have never taken drugs doesn't matter." 

However, a tribunal rejected Coleman's defence that he returned home within the one-hour period, citing shopping receipts showing he purchased 16 items from a Walmart after the time slot. 

"We regret to say that we do not think there is any mitigation which can fairly be relied upon to reduce the sanction from the two-year period," the tribunal said. 

"Unfortunately, we see this case as involving behaviour by the athlete as very careless at best and reckless at worst." 

Coleman won gold in the 100m and 4x100m relay in Doha last year, having claimed silver in each event in London in 2017, beating Usain Bolt into third in the individual final. 

He ran 9.76 seconds in Qatar in September 2019, the sixth-fastest 100m time in history and the third-fastest by an American, behind Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay. 

He set a new world record over 60m indoors in February 2018, clocking a time of 6.34 seconds in Albuquerque. 

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    Cathy Freeman bent down to tie her lace and the flash of silver that appeared in Rick MacDonald's binoculars confirmed the rumours: Australia's great hope was wearing the suit for the race that would define the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

    MacDonald relayed the message to those who had worked on the near three-year long Nike Swift Suit project and were next to him among the 112,000 spectators at the Olympic Stadium. Then he sounded a note of caution. "What if she doesn't win?"

    "I hadn't even thought about that," suit designer Edward Harber told Stats Perform News 20 years on.

    "She's in this crazy suit; what if she doesn't win?"

    They need not have worried. Freeman, the face of those Games and an athlete of Aboriginal descent who became Australia's symbol of unity, stormed to 400 metres gold to delight the Sydney crowd on September 25, 2000.

    "It was just this moment in the stadium of this absolute wall of sound," Harber recalled. 

    "During the race, you almost felt like she couldn't not win because of the sound."

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    He and MacDonald identified aerodynamics and the reduction of drag as the key element so they, along with Len Brownlie and Chester Kyle - two experts in the field - set about designing a suit that was composed of different fabrics for different parts of the body.

    "The reason every part of her body was covered up was to reduce drag," Harber explained.

    "The hood was key. You would never see a speed skater skating without a hood. If you've got hair, you're slowing yourself down. You see runners with big hair and you're like, 'What are you doing?'

    "You would never see a cyclist do that or a skater but it was a challenge for athletics, for running, because running has a look, it has a history, a heritage.

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    Fabrics were tested on hand-sized, torso-sized, arm-sized and leg-sized cylinders in wind tunnels to determine which was most effective. Then, once Nike had sealed a deal to kit out the Australian team at the Olympics, came the possibility of Freeman wearing the suit.

    "With Cathy, it was really about getting her comfortable with the suit, getting her to be at a point where she felt it was something she could consider," Harber added. "There was never a pressure for her to wear it, it was always going to be up to her."


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    And the reasoning for that was twofold.

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    "During the project we would talk about the double advantage. We would say there's an advantage in having the science but there's also an advantage in the athlete understanding the science and having the psychological power of knowing that they're in this thing that no one else has got.

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    Freeman, who reported being able to hear air whistle past her ear during testing, wore the suit in the build-up to Sydney - on a rainy day in Gateshead - but did not have it on for either the heats or the semi-finals of the 400m at the Olympics.

    But that famous night in September 2000, the suit went on, the hood went up and Freeman ran into the history books.


    Given Freeman's glory and sport's obsession with marginal gains, it is somewhat surprising that her outfit did not spark a movement that saw the Swift Suit become widely adopted by athletes.

    Freeman was the only athlete in Sydney to race in the suit with the hood up - meaning it was impossible to put an actual figure on its impact in terms of time saved - and she remains the only person to wear one at a Games.

    The science behind the suit has been used in outfits for speed skaters, cyclists and swimmers since, while sprinters have also benefitted from the technology with things such as arm sleeves that feature vortex generators.

    But the full suit with a hood? Athletes do not seem interested.

    "The power of culture is so massive," argued Harber, who suggested arm sleeves were more popular due to their usage among NBA players.

    "I think that's the main reason it hasn't been adopted is it's just not the look that athletics has. It's not something that people wear. 

    "I know that the benefit is real. I know it's something that is quantifiable. I believe it's something that is never going to go away and I think inevitably it's going to be around forever and I think athletes will always be thinking about it.

    "Maybe we were just ahead of our time."

    And the reason athletes will always be thinking about it is surely due to Cathy Freeman and are her indelible evening in Sydney on September 25, 2000.

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