Four-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson said he was “attacked and accused of racism” after questioning the accuracy of athletes’ times recorded at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon.
Johnson, a Black former US track and field star who won eight World Championship gold medals in his career, was skeptical on the BBC broadcast and on social media after Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan set a world record in 100-meter hurdles semifinals with a time of 12.12 seconds.
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Amusan herself also appeared stunned by her time. She beat the previous world record set by American Kendra Harrison in 2016, by 0.08 seconds.
Johnson, 54, then took to Twitter on Sunday to question the hurdle times.
“I don’t believe 100h times are correct,” I tweeted.
“World record broken by .08! 12 sc set. 5 National records set. And Cindy Sember quote after her PB/NR ‘I throughly [sic] I was running slow!’ All athletes looked shocked.
“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 went on to win the final with an even faster time of 12.06. Meanwhile, critics on Twitter called Johnson “dumb” over his comments on her — with one person accusing him of “discrediting” her win from her.
“Why don’t you channel your energy to recovering from your stroke you Black racist!” one Twitter user wrote to Johnson, according to the Daily Mail.
“Tobi Amusan is a world record holder and there’s nothing you can do about that.”
That same day, Johnson tweeted: “The level of dumbassery coming across my feed right now is truly staggering!”
Then, Johnson defended his job as a BBC pundit, and called the alleged racism accusations “unacceptable.”
“As a commentator my job is to comment,” Johnson wrote on Twitter. “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.”
Johnson also pointed out on the broadcast that in the women’s 100m hurdles alone, 12 of the 24 semifinalists recorded their best times ever.
Amusan was one of many athletes who broke world records or surpassed their own best times. On Friday, 22-year-old American Sydney McLaughlin shattered her world record by 0.73 seconds, blazing through the 400-meter hurdles in 50.68 seconds for her first career gold medal at the world championships.
This article originally appeared on the New York Post and was reproduced with permission