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Former US track and field star Michael Johnson has hit back at accusations of racism after he questioned the accuracy of some finishing times at the World Athletics Championships.
Johnson’s doubts came to light when Nigeria’s Tobi Amosen set a world record in the 100m hurdles semi-final with a time of 12.12 seconds. She was even faster in the wind-aided final. She had previously finished fourth at the Olympics last year and fourth at the World Championships in 2019.
According to the New York Times, it wasn’t exactly a record-breaking performance that raised eyebrows, but it was everyone scoring a personal best in the race.
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Johnson, who won four Olympic gold medals during his career in the 200m, 400m and 4x400m relay, questioned whether the timing of the hurdle was right.
“I can’t believe 100 hours is accurate. World record broken by .08! 12 PBs set. 5 national records set. And Cindy Sember said after her PB/NR ‘I was running totally slow!’ ‘ All the athletes looked shocked,” he wrote. “Heat 2 we were first shown a winning time of 12.53. A few seconds later it shows 12.43. Rounding down by .01 is normal. .10 is not.”
Johnson was accused of being biased towards the Nigerian team.
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“My job as an observer is to comment. I was attacked, accused of racism, and a “To question the abilities of a player I respect and predict. To win. Unacceptable. I move on,” he tweeted.
Amosen said after the race that she did not expect to set the world record but was confident in her abilities as a hurdler.
“I am confident in my abilities but I was not expecting a world record in these championships,” she said. “The goal is always to just do well and get the win.”
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The previous record was held by American Kenny Harrison by .08 seconds.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.