LONDON — American sprint legend Michael Johnson launched a stunning attack on the IAAF for a move he believed was done to protect Wayde van Niekerk at the World Championships.
Botswana’s Isaac Makwala was refused entrance to the London Stadium by the IAAF on ‘medical grounds’ after he fell ill over the weekend.
The IAAF, which said he had the symptoms of the infectious norovirus, also stated in a statement that the move to keep the quarter-miler away was done to protect the other athletes from the virus.
“The IAAF is very sorry that the hard work and talent of Isaac Makwala won’t be on display tonight but we have to think of the welfare of all athletes,” the sport’s governing body said in a release.
“The athlete was diagnosed with an infectious disease on Monday. As per UK health regulations, it was requested that he be quarantined in his room for 48 hours, a period which ends at 14:00hrs tomorrow (August 9).”
However, Johnson sensationally claimed the IAAF barred Makwala from racing in the men’s 400m final on Tuesday to help South African star sprinter Van Niekerk defend his world title.
“Wayde van Niekerk is an IAAF favourite and now the only person that was his challenger has been pulled out,” the BBC pundit Johnson said in the day.
“Conspiracy theories are going round. Who is behind this?”
Makwala, who revealed he had presented a medical certificate, insisted that he is not sick and should have been allowed to compete on Tuesday.
“They said I had food poisoning – which I don’t have,” he told ITV News. “I was not tested for that. They didn’t even want to listen to me.
“They said: ‘no, you can’t run because you are sick.’ Sometimes I think maybe this is sabotage.”
He posted on his Facebook page: “It is with a bleeding heart that I formally announce that I will not be part of the 400m final.
“I still maintain I am not sick.
“I shall rise again.”
The man who holds the second fastest 400m title in the world this year and was a comfortable semi-final winner on Sunday also said: “I am heartbroken. I have waited. I feel like it is sabotage.”
“I’m not sure if it is the IAAF or the British. I am feeling good to run tonight.”
Van Niekerk won the gold medal in the 43.98.