Martyn Rooney says athletics is being embarrassed by its ineffective response to star names flouting drug test rules.
World 100 metres champion Christian Coleman was yesterday provisionally banned for missing three tests in a 12-month period – a fortnight after Salwa Eid Naser, the world 400m champion, suffered the same fate.
Both face the prospect of missing next year’s Tokyo Olympics and are, at the very least, guilty of a casual attitude towards a ‘whereabouts’ process designed to protect clean athletes.
Yet Naser was allowed to compete at the Worlds despite her three missed tests being prior to the championships and Coleman was also in Doha after having a previous whereabouts charge dropped on a technicality.
Rooney, Britain’s two-time European 400m champion and former team captain, said: “It’s embarrassing for the sport to see that our stars, our world champions, are missing drugs tests and being allowed to do so.
“If you miss three tests it should be that’s it, done. You go into a suspension and the investigation carries on – rather than you’re allowed to compete and we’ll think about backdating stuff or re-awarding medals later.”
British athletes lined up to criticise Coleman, 24, who accused anti-doping agents of “a purposeful attempt to get me to miss a test” by visiting whilst he was out shopping and not phoning to say they were there.
The Athletics Integrity Unit confirmed that a phone call is not a requirement and that it usually asks employees not to call athletes as it could undermine the testing process.
“As athletes we have few genuine responsibilities,” tweeted Jaz Sawyers. “The one biggie we do have is to give the drug testers one hour a day when we’re going to be at an address, & then to be there for that hour. It’s annoying but not difficult.”
Former sprinter Chris Lambert added. “Quit complaining, man. You want to be a role model, you should be backing random drug testing not complaining about it when you miss tests.”
Rooney admits in his first year of anti-doping as a teenager he missed two tests but said he learned fast. He has long requested a 6am time slot to ensure he will always be in bed when they call.
“As a British athlete you have it drilled into you very early that whereabouts and anti-doping is a massive part of the sport and very important,” added the Londoner.
“If a Brit fails a test, it’s like ‘sh*t, we’re f*cked’. The whole country looks bad. But other countries seem more relaxed. Look at Naser’s response. She didn’t seem to think anything of her missed tests.
“The whereabouts system is intrusive but if you want a clean sport at elite level you accept it. Like training and eating right it’s part of the life of a professional athlete.”
Hurdler Eilidh Doyle reiterated the point when revealing that during three days in hospital having her baby her “first thought” was “I better update my whereabouts”.
Coleman’s furious condemnation of the anti-doping process failed to impress either track legend Michael Johnson or Britain’s former world champion Dai Greene.
Johnson said: “After a close call last year for 3 whereabout failures or missed tests, for Coleman to allow this to happen again will lead people to believe either you’re doping or you don’t take seriously the anti-doping efforts of the sport. What reason do we have to believe otherwise?”
Greene added: “Being the best in the world means that you should be leading the way by example. Try treating the sport, your full time profession, and fellow athletes with respect they deserve.
“It’s nothing personal, I love my sport and want it to be better. Until high profile athletes stop breaking all anti-doping rules whether guilty or not there will never be fairness or confidence in the sport.”
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