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Tuesday, September 3, 2019

USADA drops charges on Chris Coleman .. .. doping !!


Athletics is  very interesting  ~  Sprint race or 100m dash is one which is most charming. It will be all over in less than 10 secs and more replays would only reveal the actual way it finished. The video slow mo and guns would exactly pin point who actually won and the timing with which they finished – perhaps not in all races. 

When Seoul Olympics was on air live in 1988, the heart throb was Ben Johnson, born in Jamaica but running for Canada – one of the firsts to break the 10 sec barrier.  My favourite writer Sujatha wrote a novel in Kumudam titled ’10 second mutham’ – a story of an Indian female athlete who is trained to break the barrier of 10 seconds and her emotional relationship with the coach formed the nucleus of that story.  It was indeed thrilling  to watch Ben Johson finish with 9.79 seconds. Actually closer to the finish, he turned his neck to see where his competitors were and started celebrating with a hallmark rise of fingers. He was praised so much and the race would remain etched in one’s memory. It is another matter that he was snatched of the Gold in a few days due to his testing positive for the prohibited drug - stanozolol.  He actually  completed the lap in 48 strides !!

As he was stripped, Carl Lewis's 9.92 became the official world record, Linford Christie of the United Kingdom, who originally won the bronze medal, was elevated to silver.

The 2018 IAAF Diamond League was the 9th edition of the annual IAAF Diamond League, a fourteen-leg series of track and field meetings. Here Christian Coleman had  powerful 9.79 victory ending  his 2018 outdoor season roughly how he started it: as the most talked about sprinter in the world. It was that interim period, that tested him.  It was his injuries, more nagging than serious, began.A cramp in his right hamstring, an ailment he could sometimes train through in the past, was troubling enough to force him to pull out of his planned 2018 outdoor debut in Shanghai. It didn’t go away, but he took to the blocks in Eugene anyway.

Christian Coleman is an American professional track and field sprinter who competes in the 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash. He was a double medallist at the World Championships in Athletics in 2017, winning silver medals in both the 100 m and 4 × 100-meter relay. He holds personal records of 9.79 seconds for the 100 m and 19.85 for the 200 m, and is also the world indoor record holder for the 60-meter dash with 6.34 seconds. He was IAAF Diamond League champion in 2018 and the world number one ranked runner in the 100 m for the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

Coleman represented the United States in the relay at the 2016 Summer Olympics, competing in the heats only. He was the gold medallist in the 60 m at the 2018 IAAF World Indoor Championships and is a two-time American national champion, having won the 60 m in 2018 and 100 m in 2019. Coleman competed collegiately for the Tennessee Volunteers and won five NCAA titles indoors and out, including American collegiate record performances in both the 100 m and 60 m.

He is now in news as US Anti-Doping Agency has withdrawn its case against sprinter Christian Coleman, the fastest man in the world this year.Coleman, 23, had been charged with missing three drugs tests and was facing an automatic one-year ban. Usada said it had withdrawn the charge after receiving guidance from the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada).  That allows Coleman to compete at the World Athletics Championships, beginning in Doha on 28 September.

Under the 'whereabouts' system, athletes must let officials know where they will be for one hour every day as well as details of overnight accommodation and training. Failure to do so - a 'filing failure' - three times in a 12-month period could lead to a rule violation under the World Anti-Doping code. Usada said clarification from Wada had been sought around the interpretation of the current International Standard for Testing and Investigations (ISTI).  This concerned the date on which a failure to update an athlete's changed whereabouts information should be considered to have occurred. Usada recorded filing failures for Coleman on 6 June, 2018, 16 January, 2019 and 26 April, 2019.
Two of the three tests were directed by Usada, while a third was initiated by the Athletics Integrity Unit. However, as the ISTI states that filing failures relate back to the first day of the quarter, Coleman contended that his failure to update which was discovered on 6 June, 2018, should relate back to 1 April, 2018.That is more than 12 months prior to Coleman's third filing failure on 26 April, 2019.Wada clarified this fact to Usada, resulting in the charge being withdrawn.

The decision by Usada to drop the charges can still be appealed by Wada or the IAAF, athletics' governing body.  If found guilty, Coleman would have faced an automatic one-year ban and would miss the World Championships and the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Coleman had denied the charge and, in a statement to former sprinter Ato Bolden for the NBC network last month, said: "I'm not a guy who takes any supplements at all, so I'm never concerned about taking drugs tests, at any time."Former Great Britain 400m Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu received a year's ban in 2006 under the 'whereabouts' system for three missed tests.

It is three decades since sprinter Ben Johnson failed a doping test at the Seoul Olympics rendering Canadians shocked, disappointed and then ashamed.  The financial implications were as severe. Most of his endorsements were terminated and Johnson felt the pinch. He no longer owns the Ferrari Testarossa sports car, the one bearing the licence plate BEN 983 in reference to the world record he had set at the 1987 IAAF world championships in Rome. The house he bought for his mother in Scarborough was sold. Until that day, doping was generally thought to be the sole domain of the Soviet bloc. So, like Sisyphus, the Greek mythological character sentenced to roll a stone uphill for eternity, Johnson at once assumed the burden of all drug cheats from then on. His name is hardly ever mentioned without the tagline “disgraced sprinter.”

Decades later,  many Canadians now have sympathy for his plight, understanding the culture of doping that existed all those years ago. Johnson remains largely remorseless.“Well, I am still here,” he said laughing during a telephone conversation. “I have learned you don’t need money to be happy.”  Last year,  Toronto Star reported that Ben Johnson’s 1988 Olympic drug test report had, “a slew of handwritten scrawls and altered information.” This is the report from the sample that disqualified Johnson from the Olympics after winning gold, and had his world record struck from the record books.

An year or so ago, Canadian news paper, The  Star wrote  “Turns out no Canadian Olympic team official saw Johnson’s lab report in Seoul. Or the slew of handwritten scrawls that altered information throughout the official document.”The Star obtained a lab report, which was 30 years old this week, that showed handwritten revisions, unexplained deletions, and most importantly, confusion as to what steroid was actually in Johnson’s system.

Interesting or fresh controversy ! ~ that scar would never get healed nor rewritten!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
3rd Sept. 2019.


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