The World Athletics Championships plumbed further depths of farce last night, as Botswana sprinter Isaac Makwala was forbidden from entering the stadium to compete in the men's 400m final. He was the main challenger to South African Wayde van Niekerk, yet was not allowed compete by the IAAF, and they clarified their stance in a statement after the race.
In a statement, the IAAF confirmed that Makwala had been quarantined for 48 hours having been diagnosed with an "infectious disease".
Isaac Makwala (BOT) has been withdrawn by the IAAF Medical Delegate – click here – from tonight’s 400m final after the athlete was diagnosed with an infectious disease on Monday.
As per UK health regulations, it was requested that he be quarantined in his room for 48 hours, a period which ends at 14:00hrs tomorrow (9 Aug).
These procedures are recommended by Public Health England and were clearly explained to the teams in writing – click here – on Sunday (6 Aug) and in person to the Botswanan delegation, a member of which was present with many other representatives of teams at a meeting that took place at the Guoman Tower Hotel on Sunday.
The decision to withdraw him from the 200m heats last night and the 400m final today was made on the basis of a medical examination conducted in the warm-up medical centre by a qualified doctor on Monday (7 Aug) and recorded in the electronic medical record system of the championships. A copy of this medical record was given to a member of the BOT team medical staff following the examination.
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.
The IAAF is very sorry that the hard work and talent of Isaac Makwala won’t be on display tonight but we have to think of the welfare of all athletes.
Makwala, however, was furious, and told the BBC that he was not ill, and contested the IAAF's claim that he was tested:
I was not that sick. I just vomited. Like any other athlete, I vomit... I could have run because I did my warm-up well and I did everything well. I was ready to run. They say they are waiting for the medical results but I don't know because they didn't test me. I don't know what, which medical results they are waiting for.
This is bad. I felt heartbroken yesterday. I was ready for this, I worked hard for this. So I feel like sabotaging or something ... I don't know because I don't have the full information about this.
Further to that, Simon O'Brien of Botswana's medical team received a letter from the IAAF detailing a medical examination their doctors did on Makwala. O'Brien disputes the letter's assertion that there were officials from Botswana present. O'Brien said that "He's fit, he's very well, he's prepared to run, and he's just being kept away by the IAAF".
And on top of all of that, Botswana Olympic Committee CEO Sedimo told BBC Sport that "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".
Michael Johnson was part of the BBC's coverage of the saga, and he said that the unspooling of events left the IAAF open to various conspiracy theories as he slammed the IAAF's handling of the whole thing.
The IAAF may soon realise they have got this horribly wrong as to why they have chosen to disqualify him.
Does this apply to other athletes? If you collapse you are okay but if you vomit you aren’t okay?
Has he been advised not to be around other athletes? There is a lot of inconsistency here.
And then of course, there is the elephant in the room — Wayde van Niekerk is an IAAF favourite and now his only challenger has been pulled out of both the 200m and 400m? The conspiracy theories will come out of the silence.
Van Niekerk did indeed go on to win gold, clocking 43.98 seconds. Steven Gardiner claimed silver and Abdalelah Haroun bronze.