Botswana medal hope Isaac Makwala has accused the IAAF of “sabotage” after he was excluded from Tuesday night’s 400m final on medical grounds following a bout of norovirus.
The 30-year-old had been expected to challenge favourite and Olympic champion Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa over one lap. Van Niekerk won gold in the race.
IAAF has defended its decision, saying it was taken to contain the contagious illness.
The IAAF said in a statement issued moments before the final: “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.”
Makwala while being interview by ITV News he said, “They said I had food poisoning – which I don’t have. 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.”
Makwala claimed had he been British he would have been permitted to compete.
He said: “I asked myself ‘what if I was a Great British guy, would they not allow me to run?’
“I don’t think they would not allow me to run. If they saw the guy had potential they are going to allow him to run.
“It’s only because I’m not a Great British athlete.”
Former 400m World and Olympic champion and world record holder Michael Johnson also came to defend Makwala and questioned the decision to exclude him.
Johnson told the BBC: “There is the elephant in the room – Wayde van Niekerk’s only challenger has been pulled out of both the 200m and 400m. The conspiracy theories will come out of the silence.”
Falcon Sedimo, chief executive of the Botswana National Sports Commission, has slammed the IAAF for not being open about their decision.
“For us, the important thing is that there should have been formal communication from the IAAF,” Semido said.
“There has been none. We only had benefit from the media relating to Makwala’s not being allowed to compete which left us heart-broken.
However, an email sent to the Botswanan team on Tuesday evening claimed the competition organisers had conducted a medical examination yesterday – but without his own medical staff present.
Makwala’s medical representative at the championships Simon O’Brien meanwhile claimed the athlete was “fit and well but being kept away” by the authorities.