I was not that sick, I just vomited – Makwala after barring
LONDON: Botswana’s Isaac Makwala, a victim of an outbreak of sickness that has hit scores of competitors, was refused entry to the London Stadium on Tuesday after earlier being withdrawn from the night’s 400m final at the World Championships.
The 30-year-old, considered one of the main challengers to gold medallist Wayde van Niekerk and is a national icon in Botswana, had also been ordered to withdraw from Monday’s opening round of the 200m.
Makwala said he felt well and wanted to race, but when he tried to go through the athletes’ entrance, an official and security personnel barred his way.
“I arrived at the stadium today ready to run, but I found a trap set there… and was denied entrance (Government order by the way not IAAF),” he said later in a message to his Facebook fans.
“We fought all day for the truth to come out… I still maintain I am not sick and have never been tested by any doctor.”
The IAAF issued two statements on Tuesday, the first saying Makwala had been withdrawn due to a “medical condition” on the instruction of the “IAAF Medical Delegate”.
The head of Botswana’s athletics federation, Falcon Sedimo, told the BBC that there had been no communication from the IAAF, and that Makwala had not undergone any medical tests.
“It’s just generalised assumptions because of the outbreak of sickness and he has just one of those symptoms,” he said.
“There has been… no formal communication from the IAAF at all. We found out from the media that he could not take part and he is heartbroken.”
In the second statement, the IAAF said Makwala had been diagnosed with an “infectious disease” after an examination by a doctor in the warm-up medical centre on Monday, and said the Botswana team had been informed.
“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,” it said.
“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.”
South African Van Niekerk retained his world title in dominant fashion, storming to victory in 43.98 seconds.
Makwala told the BBC on Tuesday that he had felt fit to race in the 200m heats on Monday and the 400m final. “I was not that sick. I just vomited.”
He added that he was “heartbroken” when he was pulled from the 200m.
“I worked hard for this,” he added. “So I feel like sabotaging or something… I don’t know because I don’t have the full information about this.”
He did not specify in what way he felt he had been sabotaged.
The IAAF said it had been working with Public Health England to contain the outbreak of sickness and had issued guidelines to teams and their doctors.
Several Botswana, German, Canadian, Irish and Puerto Rican athletes have taken ill over the last few days, with some quarantined and others forced to miss their events.
Competition organisers said on Monday that the illnesses were a result of gastroenteritis, but public health officials said on Tuesday that tests had confirmed two cases of norovirus among approximately 30 victims. – Reuters