World Champ Christian Coleman Responds to Michael Johnson’s Comments: “I Don’t Necessarily Care What He Has to Say”

By Jonathan Gault
September 29, 2019

DOHA, Qatar — Christian Coleman has been one of the biggest stories of the track & field world for the past two years, ever since he broke through with his indoor 60-meter world record in February 2018 to stamp himself as the best short sprinter in the world. And ever since Coleman was charged by USADA with a whereabouts violation last month — a charge that was later rescinded after consultation with WADA — it’s been impossible to have a track-related conversation without mentioning Coleman’s name.

Some of the most notable comments about Coleman came earlier this week when Michael Johnson, the former world record holder at 200 and 400 meters and one of the sport’s all-time legends, spoke to the BBC.

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“It completely disqualifies him, at this point, from ever being that face of the sport,” Johnson said about Coleman’s missed tests. “This will follow him, as it should.”

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On Saturday night, Coleman dusted the field in the World Championship final in Doha, running a personal best of 9.76 seconds that now ranks him sixth on the all-time 100-meter list. At the post-race press conference, asked Coleman how he felt about Johnson’s comments. (Video of press conference below)

“I mean, Michael Johnson doesn’t pay my bills or sign my checks, so I don’t necessarily care what he has to say,” Coleman said. “But in response to that, I think the face of the sport goes to people who are putting up great performances. I don’t think anybody would care who [Usain] Bolt was if he wasn’t running some fast times. Like 9.5 [in the 100], 19.1 [in the 200], it’s really incredible. So no matter who he was, he was going to be one of the faces of the sport.

“So I don’t necessarily care what [Johnson] has to say. But I guess I disagree. The face of the sport — not just me — goes to the people who are putting up really good times and representing the sport in the right way.”

As Coleman was making his response on Johnson, his agent Emanuel Hudson started snapping his fingers in the back of the press conference room. Earlier, in the mixed zone, Coleman had said that Hudson “didn’t necessarily want me to go out there and try to explain” the situation in the YouTube video posted to Coleman’s channel on September 11. “But I wanted to [explain],” Coleman said, “…because I felt like logic would prevail.” Hudson also snapped his fingers during Coleman’s response to a question about the whereabouts failures by the Daily Mail‘s Riath Al-Samarrai. Whatever Hudson’s intent, the 23-year-old Coleman wanted to provide answers. He also did not want to admit any fault.

“At the end of the day I didn’t do anything wrong so that’s why I’m here competing today,” Coleman said. “I’m just a young black man who’s living my dream. It’s disappointing that anyone would try to leak information to smear my reputation. At the end of the day, it’s not something I focus on. I didn’t miss three tests, so it’s a false accusation. I knew I would be here the whole time.”

“I haven’t been careless. I think I can be more mature about it, more diligent about updating the app. I think everybody in this room is not perfect. Everybody makes mistakes, everybody messes up at their job, everybody has typos.”

Coleman may have secured his first outdoor world title, but his work from Doha is far from over. He returns for the first round of the men’s 200 on Sunday evening (1:05 p.m. ET; the final is on Tuesday night) and will also run for the United States in the 4×100-meter relay (prelims Friday, final Saturday).

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