Athletics fans have accused track legend Michael Johnson of ‘black racism’ for questioning whether Nigerian sprinter Tobi Amusan’s world record was valid.
The 100-meter hurdler romped to victory in 12.12 seconds to beat Kendra Harrison’s 2016 world record by 0.08 seconds at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon Sunday.
Amusan was one of a succession of athletes to smash world records or their own personal best times. In the women’s 100m hurdles alone, 12 of the 24 semi-finalists recorded their best times ever – and BBC pundit Johnson was instantly skeptical of the times recorded in the stadium.
The 54-year-old, who claimed four Olympic golds and eight World Championship golds in a stellar track career, took to Twitter after seeing how many athletes looked shocked at their own times.
‘I don’t believe 100h times are correct,’ he wrote.
‘World record broken by .08! 12 PBs set. 5 National records set. And Cindy Sember quote after her PB/NR ‘I (thought) I was running slow!’ All athletes looked shocked [sic].
‘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.’
Amusan became world champion in an even faster time later in the day at Hayward Field but the time did not count toward records due to a hefty tailwind.
But fans on social media were not happy with Johnson for mentioning Amusan’s world record, with one accusing him of ‘black racism’.
The Twitter user, calling himself Slim Daddy, wrote: ‘Michael Johnson are you naturally this dumb or do you have to put in effort?
‘Why don’t you channel your energy to recovering from your stroke you Black racist!
‘Tobi Amusan is a world record holder and there’s nothing you can do about that.’
Another said: ‘Just because it’s not an American WR doesn’t mean the times were incorrect,’ while one added: ‘Did you question the record when an American break the record?’
One Twitter user claimed Johnson might have been seeking revenge after USA were stripped of the 4x100m Olympic title in 2000 and Nigeria took gold instead.
‘The US 4x400m team that had Michael Johnson was stripped of the Sydney 2000 Olympic gold medal because Antonio Pettigrew confessed that he doped during the competition,’ the Tweet read.
‘The Nigerian team was eventually awarded the gold medal. Do you understand his bitterness now?’
Johnson, who was also labeled ‘pathetic’, branded the backlash he received ‘unacceptable’ and pointed out that he did not only question Amusan’s time.
He wrote later on his Twitter account: ‘The level of dumbassery coming across my feed right now is truly staggering!
‘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.’