When it came to the biggest race of his life Christian Coleman’s whereabouts came as no surprise, writes Alex Spink in Doha .
He had put a black mark against his own name by three times in a year not being where he said he would be when the drugs testers came to call.
But on a sultry night in Qatar it was never in doubt that he would be found on the top step of the podium.
In the first global major of the post-Bolt era, the 23-year-old stormed to the 100 metres world title inside the Khalifa International Stadium.
His gun to tape winning time of 9.76 seconds was the sixth quickest of all time and left daylight between him and Justin Gatlin (9.89) and Andre de Grasse (9.90) in the minor places.
“I’m a world champion and it’s an incredible feeling,” said the American. “Knowing that no matter what the circumstances I am up against, how I am feeling, I can always fight back from it and come out on top.”
Track legend Michael Johnson questioned whether Coleman could ever be seen as the face of the sport in the eyes of the public in light of the missed tests.
Coleman hit back, saying: “Michael Johnson doesn’t pay my bills and doesn’t write my cheques. I don’t care what he has to say.
“I didn’t do anything wrong. I am a young, black man, living my dream. Everybody messes up sometimes. I am not doing anything to avoid being tested.”
Coleman admitted he had been “disheartened” that news of his ‘whereabouts failures’ had been made public, but claimed he had not needed any further motivation to get to the line first.
“Coming from the south side of Atlanta, Georgia, everyone has a chip on their shoulder,” he said. “That is how competitive it is. It makes athletes great who come from there.”
Zharnel Hughes, sixth in 10.03, had harboured hopes of becoming the first British sprinter since Darren Campbell in 2003 to win an individual world medal.
That opportunity now passes to Dina Asher-Smith, who qualified third quickest for today’s final of the women’s 100m behind Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce an Marie-Josee Ta Lou.
Asher-Smith, the Diamond League champion over 100m, came to the Arabian Peninsula with more than one expert backing her for a sprint double.
But that assumed Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce would run as she did when beaten by Asher-Smith in Brussels earlier this month.
Instead the three-time world champion scorched to the fastest 100m heat in world championship history, clocking 10.80secs slowing down.
Asher-Smith, who was just 12 when mum-of-one Fraser-Pryce won the first of her two Olympic titles, was no slouch, winning her heat in 10.96.
But the 23-year-old will know she has her work cut out to get the better of the evergreen Jamaican today.
Hours earlier the champs had got off to a hugely controversial start with a midnight women’s marathon run in 30-degree heat and humidity of 70 per cent.
Decathlon world champion Kevin Mayer blasted the decision to stage the worlds in Doha after a brutal race in which 28 of the 60 competitors dropped out and 30 ended up at the medical centre.
“Clearly by organising the championship here, they didn’t put the athletes first, they’ve mostly put them in jeopardy,” he said. “Even if people aren’t saying it out loud, it’s obvious it’s a catastrophe,”
A revolutionary cooling system makes competing in the stadium manageable, but events staged outside like the marathon and walks, have no protection from the desert sun.
Yohann Diniz, who was looking to defend his 50km walk title overnight, said: “I am extremely upset. They have placed us in a furnace, which is just not possible. They are making us guinea pigs.”