USA’s Christian Coleman stormed to gold in the event at the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar on Sunday, completing a flawless campaign after being the only athlete to duck under 10 seconds in both Friday’s opening rounds and Saturday’s semi-finals.
The 23-year-old swept over the finish line in a world-leading personal best of 9.76 secs — making him the sixth-fastest man in history — to claim his first major outdoor championship gold. Defending champion and fellow American Justin Gatlin (aged 37) took silver in 9.89 secs while Canada’s Andre De Grasse claimed bronze in 9.90 secs. FYI: The 100 m world record of 9.58 secs still belongs to Bolt.
But is Coleman a champion to cherish? Up until three weeks ago, his participation in the championships had been in doubt. Having strongly denied ever using performance-enhancing drugs, he was left facing a lengthy suspension in August after it emerged he had registered three drug-testing “whereabouts” failures in a 12-month period. The violation is regarded as equivalent to a failed drug test and often followed by a ban of up to two years.
Yet Coleman avoided a sanction when the case against him was dropped in early September because of a technicality. Coleman had recorded his first whereabouts failure on June 6 last year, before two more offences in January 16 and April 26 this year. However the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) abruptly withdrew the charges on September 2 after a review of the rules regarding how the 12-month window should be calculated.
As such, Coleman’s triumph on Sunday drew only cold indifference from the crowd — which by the start of the 100 m final had thinned to more than a thousand — which suggested the sport was missing Bolt, its biggest star. That said, Coleman is now the runaway favourite for gold at next summer’s Tokyo Olympics. (In Doha, he has set the quickest time in the world this year.) But not even the staunchest supporter can argue that a one-two of Coleman and Gatlin — the latter being a two-time drug cheat — represents any kind of golden dawn.