• Athletics

End to doping in athletics unrealistic - Johnson

ESPN staff
December 11, 2013 « Injured Baines targets festive fixtures | Chartbeat test »
Michael Johnson spoke at the Doha Goals summit in Qatar © Getty Images
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Four-time Olympic champion Michael Johnson insists it is "unrealistic" to think that athletics will ever be completely free from doping.

Former 100m world record holder Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson were among six Jamaicans to test positive this year.

The Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission also all resigned after an "extraordinary audit" by the World Anti-Doping Agency, following explosive claims by a former employee that they had only carried out a single out-of-competition test in the five months leading up to the London 2012 Olympics.

"Athletics is a microcosm of real life," said Johnson.

"In real life you will always have people who cheat. It's unrealistic to expect athletics to be drug-free."

Johnson also believes the Olympics need to be repackaged in order to ensure athletics' survival amid the recent doping scandals.

"Other sports may have fans that can put up with [doping] but in athletics the fans want to see the Olympians hold true to the Olympic ideal and values," he said.

"To be honest, if it weren't for the Olympics, athletics would be dead. Off the face of the earth. Everyone loves to see people have a race but we're seeing too much emphasis placed on world records and not on the battle between the athletes.

"We must look closely at the sport and see what it is that people actually want to watch. Do we need the women's discus? A 3,000m and 5000m steeplechase at the same meeting? Nothing has happened to change the sport in my time.

"We need to look at a new format, package it better to engage more fans. Other sports have done it to increase their fan base, why can't athletics?"

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