A favorite of the 100m World Series whose series begin Friday, the American Christian Coleman will not only fight on the track: he must also fight the suspicions hanging over him after the disclosure of three breaches of its localization obligations for doping controls.
The 23-year-old sprinter was cleared on 2 September by the US Anti-Doping Agency (Usada), which was mistaken on a date, changing the period from three defaults to more than a year, to a few days near.
Coleman has escaped the worst, namely a suspension of at least twelve months that could have made him miss the Doha World Championships and the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. But the damage is done and that's the picture the Atlanta car that took a hit with this case.
How Coleman, the fastest man on the straight line since 2017 and the 7th all-time performer (9 sec 79), will react to the time to embark on the quest for a first world title and what impact will his mishap have on his performance? The first day of the world will already deliver part of the answer before the semi-finals and the grand final scheduled Saturday at Khalifa stadium.
For the moment, the posture adopted by the American has been very offensive.
- Collateral damage -
"It's a shame for Usada that this case has been made public and that they are asking athletes to follow a regulation they do not understand themselves.This organization is supposed to protect the athletes, but I feel as a victim, I work hard, I drink water and work harder the next day, so I have never been tested positive and it will never happen, "he said. in a video, nine days after being given the green light to travel to Qatar.
But the vice-world champion (2017) is also well aware of the collateral damage caused by the "affair".
"This situation may affect me mentally, he said, I missed two competitions (the Diamond League meetings in Birmingham and Zurich in August, ed), I must also move forward with my tarnished reputation and the stress."
But it's not just Coleman who came out damaged by the revelation of his three shortcomings. Once again, athletics, and more specifically the 100m race, is associated with doping. The first Olympic sport did not need that, at a time when he was desperately looking for a star since the retirement of legend Usain Bolt in 2017.
- Old demons -
"This is not good publicity", admitted at the end of August to the AFP the president of the International Federation (IAAF) Sebastian Coe, already well occupied with Russia, suspended since 2015 for having set up an institutional doping , and the recent accusations against Kenya.
On Thursday, on the eve of the opening of the Worlds, the British leader was however more conciliatory, saying that his success would be "good for sport".
A coronation of Coleman would inevitably awaken old demons, two years after the no less controversial Justin Gatlin, banned for doping twice during his long career and victorious 100 m in London under the whistles.
The American veteran (37) is also in ambush to take advantage of a possible failure of Coleman and succeed to himself, especially as the prodigy US Noah Lyles (22 years) focused on the 200 m.
The fourth-fastest time of the year (9 sec 87), the 2004 Olympic champion will be able to capitalize on his experience of major events in an attempt to add a fourth world gold medal to his record. It remains to be seen whether he is sufficiently recovered from his injury to the left thigh, suffered on 3 September in Zagreb.
But in addition to his sulphurous past, Gatlin does not end, too, to fuel suspicions. The American did not totally cut the bridges with his former coach Dennis Mitchell, trapped in 2017 by journalists from the Telegraph to whom he had proposed doping products, and his victory would be talking. Between Coleman and Gatlin, athletics does not really know which way to dance.
© 2019 AFP