Athlete banned for racism row

2013-01-31 09:36
John Steffensen (AFP Photo)

Sydney - An Australian sprinter who claimed ahead of the London Olympics he was racially abused by officials and accused the athletics federation of vilification was Thursday banned from competition for six months.

John Steffensen triggered controversy in the lead-up to last year's Games when he claimed that an Australian Olympic Committee staffer racially abused him in Beijing in 2008, an allegation supported by team captain Steve Hooker.

After he was overlooked for an individual 400m berth for London, Steffensen told Australian television he had "put up with being racially vilified by this federation, being discriminated against on many teams".

"You know it'd help if I was a different colour, then a lot of decisions with my federation would be totally different," said Steffensen, who represented Australia in the 4x400m relay in London and is of South African heritage.

Athletics Australia slapped him with a six-month competition ban on Thursday over the remarks, which it said had been debunked after an "exhaustive independent investigation".

"This investigation, which was undertaken with Steffensen's participation, determined that the athlete's public allegations through the media of racial discrimination and vilification against him could not be substantiated," the governing body said.

The ban, which covers both domestic and international competition and is effective until August 1, was punishment for "making statements and engaging in conduct likely to bring the sport of athletics into disrepute", it added.

Steffensen, a silver medallist at the 2004 Athens Olympics and two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist, has had several run-ins with athletics chiefs and served a three-month ban in 2010 for abusing national officials.

A 2007 study by Australia's Human Rights Commission found that racial abuse and vilification were common across the nation's sporting codes from amateur through to professional level, leaving ethnic minorities under-represented.

Read more on:    london olympics  |  athletics


Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
  • Blitz
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @00:00
  • SS1
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @01:00
  • SS2
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @02:00
  • SS3
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @03:00
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Live scoring

Most Read


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

Wallabies win, Boks to face Wales
LIVE: England 21-3 Uruguay
As it happened: Australia 15-6 Wales
Scots beat Samoa, end Japan's dream
Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...


Take a photographical trip down memory lane and remind yourself of how the Springboks fared in their five previous Rugby World Cup campaigns. In addition, pick your all-time Springbok Rugby World Cup Dream Team and you could win R3 000!

Latest blogs

How much of a runner are you?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

iPhone Latest Sport24 news on your iPhone

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.