Christian Coleman has an unequivocal message for the doubters: “I don’t do drugs.”
The US sprint star – the fastest man in the world this year – recently ran into trouble with the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) “whereabouts” system, which requires athletes to let officials know where they will be for one hour every day, as well as details of overnight accommodation and training venues.
If an athlete fails to do so – known as a “filing failure” – three times over a 12-month period, they could face punishment.
Coleman’s filing failures were recorded on June 6, 2018, January 16, 2019 and April 26, 2019, but under International Standard for Testing and Investigations (ISTI) guidelines, filing failures relate back to the first day of the quarter.
According to Coleman, his failure to update on June 6 should relate back to April 1, 2018 which is more than 12 months prior to his third filing failure on April 26, 2019.
As a result, the case against him, brought by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), was dropped.
“I don’t take drugs, I don’t even take anything legal,” Coleman, who will compete in this week’s World Championships in Doha, Qatar, which begin on Saturday, told CNN.
“A lot of athletes take legal creatine or protein powders or just different pills and supplements to be able to recover faster. And I don’t take anything, I work hard and that’s just what it is, I don’t take anything.
“I don’t even know what that even entails or what that involves to be able to go outside of the rule book to be able to try to get an advantage … I don’t take drugs, I don’t take anything illegal, and I just work hard and just let my God-given abilities speak for themselves.”
The 23-year-old Coleman ran a world-leading time of 9.81 seconds for the 100 meters in the Diamond League in California in June – a time just 0.02 seconds slower than his personal best.
But the whereabouts imbroglio has meant that Coleman has been equally busy off the track. So much so that the sprinter released a 22 minute YouTube video in which he explained the reasons behind the missed drug tests and proclaimed his innocence.
“Either you believe me or you don’t believe me. I don’t know, there’s not much else I can do about it. I feel like I’ve been really transparent about the situation. At least, I try to be and just explain to people the situation, and there’s nothing fishy going on.
“I’m just a regular guy, I just happen to be really talented, and I have a gift from God that I’ve worked really hard at. And now I’m at a level where you’re in those conversations where people are speculating and things like that.
So we have a storyline like that, obviously, people are assuming and making up their own type of storyline. But in my opinion, I feel like I’ve done everything that I can do.”
Tested on multiple occasions
While insisting he did not break any rules, Coleman says he does need to be more “diligent” in making sure he informs USADA of his whereabouts.
USADA CEO Travis Tygart has also called Coleman and offered him tips on how to do so.
Asked whether the prospect of a ban had entered his head after missing the first two tests, Coleman said: “I don’t know. I think people have a misconception of athletes when they think about what goes through their heads, you know what I’m saying?
“Obviously, that’s the thought when it’s just front and center, like here’s the issue. It’s just like, ‘Why weren’t you thinking about this?’
“I don’t know. It’s just like I’m an athlete, I’m a human being. I have personal issues going on. I have family, friends. I live outside of where I’m from, so I’m constantly traveling back and forth.
“I have appearances, I have different things going on, and I don’t know, I just live a life that was just a lot of things going on through my head. So I can’t necessarily say that that was just front and center. The thing that I think about every single day, like you got to make sure you’re doing this every single day.
“But I think that that’s what I’ve learned from the situation. It’s just that you got to be more diligent in planning, you got to be more organized and every time you make a move you got to just remember to update the app and let them know the plan.
“Even if you don’t know beforehand, like what the address is or whatever, just communicate and update the app and just let them know.”
Coleman, who is also competing in the 200 meters in Doha, says he has been tested on multiple occasions over the past year, adding that drug testers sometimes come twice a week, twice a month or four times a month.
The World Championships should provide a perfect opportunity for Coleman to lay down a marker for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Second in the 100m at the World Championships in London two years ago, Coleman now wants gold in an event once dominated by the great Usain Bolt.
The Jamaican, a multiple world and Olympic champion and holder of the world record, retired in 2017. Since then, athletics has been looking for a new global superstar and while Coleman is not shy in coming forward, he is keen to play down comparisons between them.
“I mean, it’s an honor like to be in the same category as somebody of his stature, somebody that I grew up looking up to,” he said.
“But I just want to set my own legacy, set my own path… I want to be the next guy in the sport 10 years from now, you’re asking another young guy who’s coming up, ‘Do you want to be like, Christian Coleman?’”