IAAF London 2017: Governing Body Defends Decision To Withdraw Isaac Makwala

Botswana's Isaac Makwala


The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has defended its decision to withdraw Botswana’s Isaac Makwala from participating in the ongoing contest.

The 30-year-old was barred from competing in Tuesday’s 400m final and was denied entry into the London Stadium amid attempts by the Athletics’ governing body to control a “very virulent” norovirus outbreak.

IAAF said it was under instruction to quarantine athletes who showed symptoms of the virus.


Head of medicals at the IAAF, Pam Venning, told BBC Sport: “I have to trust my doctors. My role is to ensure the healthcare of all the athletes here and it’s a very infectious and very virulent disease.”

In a later statement, the governing body said: “The team doctor, team leader and team physio had been informed following the medical examination that the athlete should be quarantined for 48 hours and would therefore be missing the 400m final on Tuesday.”

Venning said “all the other teams” with affected athletes had adhered to IAAF instructions.

But Botswana’s Olympic boss, Falcon Sedimo, said the decision by the competition’s governing body was ‘disturbing’, owing to the fact that the 30-years-old was declared fit to run by the country’s medical team.

World Championship medal favourite earlier told BBC Sport he would be “devastated” to miss out as he was fit to race – having already been withdrawn from Monday’s 200m heats.


Later on, when he attempted to pass through the athletes’ entrance to the stadium, an official and security personnel prevented him from doing so.

The IAAF has insisted it gave clear communication to the Botswana delegation that Makwala would not be allowed to run following a medical examination.

But Botswana officials said they had received no explanation as to why Makwala was not allowed entry, and had not been told to keep the runner in quarantine.

Sedimo told BBC Sport: “There has been no official communication, no formal communication from the IAAF at all. We found out from the media that he could not take part and he is heartbroken.

“There have been no medical tests at all, it’s just generalised assumptions because of the outbreak of sickness and he has just one of those symptoms.”


Botswana medical team member, Simon O’Brien said Makwala showed no symptoms of the bug and blamed “poor communication” from the IAAF for the athlete missing the race.

“He’s fit, he’s very well, he’s prepared to run, and he’s just being kept away by the IAAF,” said O’Brien, who insisted there was no sign of the illness during the time he spent with Makwala.

The Botswana athlete had been considered the main threat to South Africa athlete, Olympic champion and world record holder, Wayde van Niekerk, who retained his world title by winning Tuesday’s race.


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