Athletics

Michael Johnson Calls Out Steve Cram Over Failure To Put Spotlight On Drug Cheats

Michael Johnson Calls Out Steve Cram Over Failure To Put Spotlight On Drug Cheats

Though the boos were not as loud for Justin Gatlin on Sunday evening as they had been on Saturday, they could still be heard at the London Stadium.

Throughout the rounds of the 100m, the 35-year-old American had become the subject of jeers from the crowd. That continued as he was introduced ahead of last night's 100m final and afterwards as he stood on the track victorious.

Gatlin has twice served bans for doping and had become a symbol of the sport's ills for some of those in attendance.

Following the medal presentation, BBC analysts Steve Cram and Michael Johnson began a discussion which verged on becoming heated, the spice being provided by Johnson.

Johnson had questions for Cram regarding his focus on Gatlin as a drugs cheat and his failure to run the BBC highlighter pen over the careers of others.

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Steve Cram: I'm never going to sit here - I'm really sorry - I'm never going to sit here and be an apologist for Justin Gatlin or what he represents.

Gabby Logan: You don't have to apologise to anyone here.

Michael Johnson: Why don't you mention all of the other people? Because how is it that Justin Gatlin stands out so far above in your mind and other people's mind above all the other drug cheats? Explain the difference between him and the others.

SC: I've talked on air about Marion Jones...

MJ: Come on, Marion?

SC: OK, Rashid Ramzi. Seriously, on air, all the time.

MJ: Seriously, what about the people who are here though. What about today? The people that are here.

SC: I think I said yesterday that one man shouldn't carry all of the hate and one man shouldn't get all of the love, which is Bolt, that's what he represents.

If we acquiesce all the time, which is what we have done, we're all responsible in our sport for allowing this situation to over a number of years to arrive. We let our federations be badly run. We let the people who were meant to be looking after our sport ride roughshod over all the things we call dear. We are partly responsible for that.

Now that we are in the media we have a responsibility, within reason, to educate people.

MJ: I don't disagree with you there but I think that we've done a poor job of educating because we created a story that was not accurate. We created a villain and hero story that created most of this.

The fact that Justin Gatlin was in this stadium in 2012 and no one booed him is proof of that. In 2015 when Gatlin was starting to get close to Bolt and people were getting fed up of the drug situation, we created this narrative and we didn't do a good job of educating people about all of the drug cheats in the sport and how they've gotten away with it. To your point, what the federation has not done, we didn't educate them about that. We gave them a representative.

SC: I've only ever tried to deal in facts. I don't know Justin Gatlin very well; I don't know if he's a nice guy or a bad guy. The other people that I might suspect and there might be a few here who are cheating, I can't say anything until they've failed a test and they've been given a ban. Then that becomes a fact.

Admittedly because Gatlin is in our faces, that gets repeated and repeated more than a guy who finished 12th in the discus. That just happens to be, it's not his fault, it's just that he happens to be in the 100m and he's against Bolt. Inevitably he has become the villain or people have decided to make him the villain. I hope I've never called him a villain, I hope [that] I've just said, 'This guy has failed two drugs tests'.

I try when I'm commentating in Diamond League to say it where I think it's relevant; I can't say it all the time because I would never get any commentating done.

MJ: I think you have presented him as a villain; that we have presented him as a villain. I think that was something that we have the responsibility to educate and that we have to do a better job of educating going forward, educating the fans on all the goings on with regard to doping as opposed to pinning it on one person because they are going to believe that once that person is gone and extracted from the sport that everything will be great and it will not.

You can watch Steve Cram and Michael Johnson's discussion below.

Watch: Justin Gatlin Wins Gold As Usain Bolt Beaten In Final Individual Race

PJ Browne
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