Olympic legend Michael Johnson ‘accused of racism’ for questioning times at world championships

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Former US track and field star Michael Johnson pushed back on accusations of racism after he questioned the accuracy of some finishing times at the World Athletics Championships.

Johnson’s skepticism came to light as Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan set a world record in 100-meter hurdles semifinals with a time of 12.12 seconds. She was even faster in the wind-aided finals. She had previously finished fourth at the Olympics last year and fourth at the world championships in 2019.

It was not exactly the record-breaking performance that raised eyebrows, but it was everyone else in race scoring personal bests, according to The New York Times.

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Gold medalist Tobi Amusan, of Nigeria, poses during a medal ceremony for the women’s 100-meter hurdles at the World Athletics Championships on Sunday, July 24, 2022, in Eugene, Ore.
(AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Johnson, who won four Olympic gold medals in the 200-meter, 400-meter and 4×400-meter relays over the course of his career, questioned whether the hurdle times were right.

“I don’t believe 100h times are correct. World record broken by .08! 12 PBs set. 5 National records set. And Cindy Sember quote after her PB/NR ‘I throughly I was running slow!’ All athletes looked shocked,” he wrote. “Heat 2 we were first shown winning time of 12.53. Few seconds later it shows 12.43. Rounding down by .01 is normal. .10 is not.”

Johnson was met with accusations he was being biased toward the Nigerian team.

WORLD ATHLETICS CHAMPIONSHIPS: JAMAICA SWEEPS THE 100 METERS AS SHELLY-ANN FRASER-PRYCE DOMINATES THE RACE

Michael Johnson is a multi-time Olympic champion and world champion in the longer sprint distances, today commenting for the BBC on the fifth day of the World Athletics Championships at Hayward Field stadium.

Michael Johnson is a multi-time Olympic champion and world champion in the longer sprint distances, today commenting for the BBC on the fifth day of the World Athletics Championships at Hayward Field stadium.
(ANP via Getty Images)

“As a commentator my job is to comment. In questioning the times of 28 athletes (not 1 athlete) by wondering if the timing system malfunctioned, I was attacked, accused of racism, and of questioning the talent of an athlete I respect and predicted to win. Unacceptable. I move on,” he tweeted.

Amusan said after the race she did not expect to set a world record but believed in her abilities as a hurdler.

“I believe in my abilities, but I was not expecting a world record at these championships,” she said. “The goal is always just to execute well and get the win.”

Tobi Amusan, of Nigeria, celebrates winning the women's 100-meter hurdles final at the World Athletics Championships on Sunday, July 24, 2022, in Eugene, Ore.

Tobi Amusan, of Nigeria, celebrates winning the women’s 100-meter hurdles final at the World Athletics Championships on Sunday, July 24, 2022, in Eugene, Ore.
(AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

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The previous record was held by American Keni Harrison by .08 seconds.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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