After a reversal by the sport’s anti-doping organization, the top-ranked sprinter in track and field’s marquee event has been cleared to compete in this month’s world championships and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Christian Coleman, the reigning American 100 meters champion and owner of the fastest 100 time in the world this year, had faced the prospect of a two-year ban after the U.S. Anti-Doping Association charged him with missing three drug tests in a one-year span. A hearing had been scheduled for Wednesday, but on Monday USADA withdrew its charge against Coleman on a technicality.

In a statement released Monday afternoon, USADA explained how Coleman’s three “whereabouts violations” had occurred over the course of more than a calendar year based on how dates are recorded for a specific violation, which exempted him from a penalty.

USADA recorded Coleman’s first violation, it said, on June 6, 2018, when USADA attempted to test Coleman but could not after discovering Coleman had not properly updated his location. Coleman also did not show up for drug tests on Jan. 16 and April 26 of this year, giving him three in 12 months and triggering the ban.

But Coleman insisted, citing the International Standard for Testing and Investigations, that his first violation – failure to file his location properly – should be dated on the first day of the quarter in which it occurs. USADA agreed with the interpretation. That meant his first violation is dated April 1, 2018 – more than a year before his third violation on April 26.

Ultimately, USADA did not change its stance that Coleman committed three violations. It just altered the way it viewed when they occurred.

Missing a drug teat is considered a violation, and Coleman’s saga will likely draw more scrutiny to a sport steeped in doping controversies.

“Consistent application of the global anti-doping rules is essential in every case,” USADA CEO Travis Tygart said in a statement. “In this case we applied the rules to Mr. Coleman in the manner that USADA understands should be applied to any other International-level athlete. We must approach every case with the primary goal of delivering fairness to athletes under the rules and providing transparency and consistency in order to build their trust and support for the anti-doping system.

“Every athlete is entitled to a presumption of innocence until their case is concluded through the established legal process. 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.”

Coleman has been tested 20 times since 2018, according to USADA’s release.

Messages left with Coleman’s representatives were not immediately returned.

Coleman gave a statement to NBC’s Ato Boldon about the charge last month, saying he was confident the hearing will clear the matter.

“I’m not a guy who takes supplements at all, so I’m never concerned about taking drug tests, at any time,” Coleman said. “What has been widely reported concerning filing violations is simply not true.”

Coleman ran for the U.S. 4×100 relay team at the 2016 Rio Olympics as a 20-year-old, while still in college at Tennessee. He signed a multiyear contract with Nike in 2017 and has since becoming one of the sport’s brightest young stars.

Coleman has posted the world’s fastest time each of the past three seasons. His personal-best 9.79 seconds – which made him the seventh-fastest man ever – came last year at a Diamond League event in Brussels.


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