Steffensen racism spray a shame, say Athletics Australia
Athletics Australia chief Dallas O’Brien says John Steffensen’s claims of racism are “regrettable” but no disciplinary action will be taken against the 400m runner.
ATHLETICS AUSTRALIA chief Dallas O’Brien says John Steffensen’s claims of racism are “regrettable” but no disciplinary action will be taken against the 400m runner.
Steffensen accused AA of racism after the sole 400m berth for the London Olympics was allocated to rising teenage star Steve Solomon.
AA said in London on Friday night that Solomon was the only runner eligible to run the 400m despite neither he or Steffensen meeting the automatic qualifying time of 45.3 seconds.
AA has the power to choose one athlete with a B qualifier in the event, a standard reached by Solomon and Steffensen, who won the national title earlier this year.
They have both already been picked for the 4x400m relay.
Commonwealth Games champion Steffensen took to Twitter to threaten a boycott of the Olympics and he went one step further in an incredible tirade on Channel Nine on Saturday morning, saying he has been racially vilified by AA.
“I’ve put up with being racially vilified by this federation, being discriminated against on many teams,” he said of AA’s decision to name the 19-year-old Solomon ahead of him for the one-lap race.
“…You think I waste my time running at training for fun? For this?
“No, they can have athletics. I don’t need to do this no more.”
“I don’t think it helps the legitimacy of our sport or the selection criteria, and I think it only makes our sport look stupid.
“The rules and the goalposts are getting shifted. Now they’re going to pick who they want to put in the team.
“You know it would help if I was a different colour.
“A lot of my decisions with my federation would be totally different.
“But I’ve never brought that up. I’ve always kept quiet on that. Because people aren’t really going to want to hear that sort of stuff.
“I was going to run the relay and go home and do the right thing by the sport.
“Now I’m saying something because they’re not doing the right thing by me.
“And at age 30 and the amount of years and effort I’ve put into the sport, the medals – everything I’ve done for the sport – I deserve a little bit of respect.”
But O’Brien said AA made the call after only being allowed to nominate one Australian athlete under IAAF rules.
“We didn’t have anywhere to move,” O’Brien told Fox Sports.
“John has his own opinions. I think that’s probably a statement he may regret making in future times when things settle down.”
“It’s an emotional business this and it’s regrettable what John has said, that’s a shock.”
Solomon burst into contention for the individual run by posting a career-best 45.52s at the world junior championships in Barcelona this week.
Steffensen, who set his best time for the year of 45.61s in February in Sydney, defeated Solomon at the Olympic trial in March before suffering a hamstring injury that has plagued his London preparations. - AAP
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