Whereabouts clause is for the benefit of athletes, says World Athletics chief Sebastian Coe

Sajith B Warrier

Bengaluru, June 30: World Athletics President Lord Sebastian Coe says no athlete should minimise the importance of the whereabouts clause after America's 100M world champion Christian Coleman missed three doping tests in a 12-month period.

The American sprinter, who was provisionally suspended earlier this month, risks a two-year ban that would rule him out of next year's Tokyo Olympics.

The 24-year-old tweeted recently that he was the victim of a purposeful attempt to get me to miss a test in December last year.

Christian Coleman provisionally suspended over whereabouts failures

He said he was out shopping for Christmas presents and had not received a phone call.

The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), the anti-doping arm of World Athletics, said "a phone call is discretionary and not a mandatory requirement".

However Coe, himself a double Olympian believes the whereabouts clause is for the benefit of the athletes.

"It's not really our policy to comment on unresolved cases - this is now quite properly a matter for the AIU," Coe was quoted as saying in an interview with BBC Sport.

"No athlete should minimise the importance of the whereabouts rule," said Coe.

"The whereabouts rule is to protect the athletes, it's to protect their reputations and it's to make sure that we move as hard and as fast as we can to drug-free sport.

"It's one hour a day - this is not arcane maritime law, this isn't complicated.

"The vast majority of athletes make sure they don't miss those tests. They've to take it seriously."

Coleman, who clocked 9.76sec to win 100M gold at the IAAF World Athletics Championships held in Doha in September 2019 said he had never taken drugs.

The AIU has so far not reacted to his comments.

A double silver medallist in the 100M and 4x100M relay at the 2017 World Championship in London, Coleman could potentially miss out on the Tokyo Olympics., which has been put off to next year due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Coleman was already facing a two-year ban from the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) prior to the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha due to whereabouts failures, but he had the charges withdrawn because of a filing irregularity regarding the date of the first missed test.

(With World Athletics Media inputs)

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