Monday 18 December 2017

IAAF facing questions after excluding medal hope from 400m final on medical grounds

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 06: Isaac Makwala of Botswana looks on in the mens 400m semi-finals during day three of the 16th IAAF World Athletics Championships London 2017 at The London Stadium on August 6, 2017 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 06: Isaac Makwala of Botswana looks on in the mens 400m semi-finals during day three of the 16th IAAF World Athletics Championships London 2017 at The London Stadium on August 6, 2017 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Matt McGeehan

The IAAF was facing questions over the exclusion of Botswana medal hope Isaac Makwala from Tuesday night's 400 metres final on medical grounds following a bout of norovirus.

Makwala insisted he was "ready to race" in an interview with the BBC on Tuesday but was later excluded by the world athletics' governing body from the final.

The 30-year-old had been expected to challenge favourite and Olympic champion Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa over one lap.

Video footage showed Makwala was prevented from entering the warm-up track and Botswanan officials criticised the IAAF for their heavy-handedness.

Botswana national sports commission chief executive Falcon Sedimo told BBC1: "Isaac has been denied entry to the stadium and has been taken back to the hotel where the team stays.

"We don't have any official communication from the IAAF pointing to the reasons that have led to Makwala being debarred from competing in the 400 metres final for men.

"I met Makwala this morning before 11am and I also met him again this afternoon at around 1500 hours and the indications were that he was ready and raring to go."

Sedimo criticised the IAAF's communication and said the Botswana officials found out Makwala was unable to compete through the media.

He added that Makwala had not undergone any medical tests on Tuesday and "it could be possible one of the symptoms - but only one - that he showed could have possibly led to the norovirus".

Press Association Sport has contacted the IAAF for a response on Makwala's exclusion.

Makwala had been given medical dispensation to withdraw from the 200m heats on Monday night.

Without a valid reason for pulling out, he could have been disqualified from the 400m final - an event he will now miss anyway, bar a last-minute U-turn.

The IAAF is likely to point to the need to contain the contagious virus which emerged on Tuesday.

Competition organisers announced on Monday night that several London 2017 competitors - staying at the same official team hotel - had suffered gastroenteritis.

A spokesperson for the Tower Hotel on Tuesday morning insisted it was "not the source of the illness".

And Public Health England on Tuesday said around 30 people had been affected, with laboratory testing revealing norovirus in two cases.

Public Health England later told Press Association Sport that it believes there are connected cases at other hotels accommodating those involved in the championships, which are taking place at the London Stadium.

Women's marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe questioned why Makwala needed to be excluded.

Radcliffe said on the BBC: "He's planning on staying in his lane. He's not planning on coming into close contact with anybody else.

"What this does is it sends out a dangerous message now because other athletes that get ill will certainly not be giving away any sign of that.

"They will be hiding it and that's then dangerous to their health because maybe they need medical support.

"They might be really, really sick, but they're certainly not going to be telling anyone now after they've seen the treatment that he's just had."

Former 400m world record holder Michael Johnson added: "I think that this highlights a lack of preparation for this sort of thing and a lack of good decision-making on the fly.

"These sorts of things will happen. If it's not this, the next time it's something else, and you have to have people who are able to make good decisions and responsible decisions on the fly and in the moment.

"And I think this represents a lack of preparation and a lack of ability to respond."

Press Association

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