Botswana government mulls legal action against IAAF

"I am running with anger. The 400 meters is my race," Isaac Makwala said after his heats Wednesday. AP Photo/David J. Phillip

Botswana's government have waded in on the row over Isaac Makwala being barred from competing in the 400m final at the ongoing World Championships in London, threatening possible legal action against the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

"We can't tolerate such behaviour from an organisation such as the IAAF. We can even go the legal route," Botswana's Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Thapelo Olopeng told a media briefing on Wednesday evening.

The minister said Makwala had been humiliated.

"We won't leave the IAAF (untouched). It's not an issue of whether he had the virus or not but the IAAF's approach. How did they come to their conclusion without testing the athlete?" Olopeng asked.

Makwala was prevented from running in Monday's opening 200m heat and Tuesday's 400m final after falling victim to an outbreak of sickness that has hit many competitors. The 30-year-old, a leading contender in both events, insisted he was fit enough to race.

The sport's world governing body had said he had an infectious disease and needed to be quarantined for 48 hours, but after a protest from Botswana on Wednesday the IAAF said that the quarantine period had ended and allowed Makwala to attempt to qualify for the 200m semifinal via one-man-on-track time trial. He did so comfortably, before impressively qualifying for Wednesday night's final from the rarely-used lane 1.

The main bone of contention is that Makwala had been barred from London's Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, thereby missing an almost guarateed 400m medal (as a second favourite behind Wayde van Niekerk, who strolled to the win) without being examined, the Botswana official said.

"You can't pronounce illness without testing the patient. He was told that he had the virus but testing has to be done in order to determine whether he had the virus," Olopeng said.

"Makwala was not examined, he had just one episode of vomiting that could have been caused by all sorts of elements. The nation is worried about what happened."

The minister did not explain what possible legal steps it could take against athletics' governing body.