LONDON (Reuters) – Botswana’s Isaac Makwala was withdrawn from Tuesday’s 400 metres final at the World Athletics Championships after falling victim to an outbreak of sickness that has struck down scores of competitors.
The 30-year-old, who was considered as one of the main challengers to favourite Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa and is a national hero in his country, had also been ordered to withdraw from Monday’s opening round of the 200 metres.
“Isaac Makwala was withdrawn from the men’s 400 metre (final) due to a medical condition on the instruction of the IAAF Medical Delegate,” the global athletics body (IAAF) said in a statement.
“Any further questions should be referred to the BOT team.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Makwala had told the BBC that he had felt fit to race in the 200 metres on Monday and felt “ready” for the 400 metres final.
“I was not that sick,” he said. “I just vomited. Like any other athlete, I vomit… I could have run because I did my warm-up well and I did everything well. I was ready to run.”
He added that he was heartbroken on Monday when he was pulled from the 200 and been left in the dark about the reasons for his withdrawal.
“They say they are waiting for the medical results but I don’t know because they didn’t test me. I don’t know what, which medical results they are waiting for.
“This is bad. I felt heartbroken yesterday. I was ready for this, I worked hard for this. 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 and the IAAF did not respond specifically to Makwala’s comments when contacted by Reuters.
The sport’s governing body said it had been working with Public Health England to contain the outbreak and had issued guidelines to teams and their doctors.
Several Botswana, German, Canadian, Irish and Puerto Rican athletes have been taken ill over the last few days, with some effectively put into quarantine 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 laboratory tests have confirmed two cases of norovirus among approximately 30 illness victims.
Reporting by Gene Cherry; writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Gareth Jones, Pritha Sarkar and Toby Davis