No quick fix to sport's troubles, Johnson says

Thu May 19, 2016 9:14pm EDT
 
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By Gene Cherry

(Reuters) - Athletics could have its greatest show ever at the Rio Olympics but that would do little to resolve the many problems facing the scandal-plagued sport, world 400 meters record holder Michael Johnson told Reuters.

The 48-year-old retired American sprinter, one of athletics' all-time top performers, said he did not know where the sport was headed and that the main focus should be on restoring athletics' credibility.

"Nothing that happens in Rio with athletics is going to snap back the credibility in the sport," Johnson, the only man to win the 200 and 400 meters gold medals at the same Olympics, said in a telephone interview.

"That is going to take some time and there has to be a consistent and ongoing effort to reestablish credibility.

"I never expected this and never would have imagined that things would have been revealed to be this bad."

Widespread doping problems, allegations of bribery to top athletics officials and a drop in both spectators and sponsorships are among key issues currently plaguing the sport.

Johnson spoke while launching a new charity to assist young men and women in developing athletic and leadership skills that can be used in their troubled communities globally.

Reaching out to youth is just one area where athletics must put an emphasis on, Johnson said.   Continued...

 
Olympic and Paralympic Games mascots Vinicius (L) and Tom pose during the opening ceremony of the new terminal at the international airport Galeao, which is expected to receive 1.5 million passengers during the 2016 Rio Olympics, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares