Athletics

Johnson Has Message For Angry Athletes After Emotional Hassan Interview

Johnson Has Message For Angry Athletes After Emotional Hassan Interview

On Saturday night, Sifan Hassan completed a double never before achieved at a single World Championships or Olympic Games: the Dutch athlete won the 1,500m, adding to the 10,000m gold she won last weekend.

Hassan's winning time for the 10,000m is the fastest in the world this year and the 26th fastest ever for the distance. Her time for Saturday night's win was even more incredible. 3:51.95 is a championship record and the sixth fastest women's 1,500m time ever.

Despite those feats, praise for Hassan has been limited. And with good reason: the 26-year-old is coached by Alberto Salazar. Earlier this week, the 61-year-old was banned for four years for doping violations.

Hassan joined Salazar's Nike Oregon Project training group in 2016. The investigation into Salazar had begun a year earlier. Despite the allegations, Hassan still decided to associate herself with him.

Following last night's win, Hassan said that she was "angry" that people were casting doubt over her performances. In an emotional interview with the BBC, tears flowed from Hassan.

"It was a hard week for me and I was just so angry," said Hassan.

I couldn't talk to anyone, I just ran all out. I want to show people that hard work can be better than everything.

I have been clean my whole life. I work hard. It makes me so mad.

You can see my body, how I've been consistent. I have been a good athlete since 2014.

If I didn't have the 10,000m in my legs, I could have broken the world record. I was so tired the last 50m and I couldn't push.

A lot of people, my coach always told me that every year you improve and you have a world record in your legs.

This is amazing for me, this is fantastic. I showed the new generation what they can do with hard work. They can run amazing times.

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Immediately following Hassan's interview, Michael Johnson had some advice, in particular for her and his fellow American Christian Coleman. The 100m world championship nearly missed out on this year's championships after he missed three doping tests in a 12-month period. On a technicality, he sidestepped a two-year ban and was allowed to compete.

"She made the decision to go to the Oregon Project," said Johnson.

"The time that she went, Salazar was under investigation. Many people thought that this investigation was going to go nowhere, it stalled for quite some time and now it's come back out.

"Maybe she thought, 'It's OK to go there because it's going nowhere'. It did go somewhere and he is now banned. She has to realise and any athlete in that organisation has to realise that is going to be attached to them - they are going to have to answer these questions.

"You can get angry because people say all sorts of things on social media. This is the same exact situation that Christian Coleman was dealing with. He got angry that people immediately said, 'Well you're a drug cheat because you had three missed whereabouts'. I'm sure they are saying, 'Sifan Hassan is a drug cheat because you were with Alberto Salazar' - I've already seen that.

"People in this sport, fans of this sport are so sick and tired of drug cheats - they have had it, they have zero tolerance at this point.

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"If you are associated with a coach that is banned, if you miss your whereabouts filings, if you test positive or have any connection with anything dealing with doping, they are done with you. That's just the way this is and these athletes have to understand that.

"If you are clean and you want to prove to them that you are clean, you are not going to get that done by being angry and going out and saying, 'I ran because I'm angry because I want to prove to everyone that I'm clean'.

"Running fast, if you've been under some kind of doping cloud, doesn't make you clean, it doesn't prove to people that you're clean. They are going to say, 'Yeah, that's what I mean'.

"You have to come clean to them about what you've been doing. You have to hold up your hand and say, 'I will be tested. I understand why people are angry. I understand why people have these accusations against me'.

"Then appeal to them that you are clean and you support clean sport. Showing that anger is not going to get you anywhere and these athletes have to realise that."

Watch: Chinese Women's Relay Team Provide Comedy Highlight Of World Championships

PJ Browne
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