Americans attacked for staying at home

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The Independent Online
The International Amateur Athletic Federation has accused the United States of threatening the future of athletics after the Americans named a team for the World Indoor Championships lacking in some of the sport's biggest names.

The line-up - without the likes of the 400 metres world record holder Michael Johnson and the three-times Olympic gold medallist Jackie Joyner- Kersee - were picked after the national indoor championships in Atlanta at the weekend.

The IAAF's spokesman Chris Winner said yesterday it was "pretty terrifying" that the United States's top athletes were either snubbing or had not qualified for the showpiece of the indoor season which starts in Barcelona on Friday.

He said that the sport could be killed off if the United States failed to show off their top talent: "It's pretty terrifying when the likes of Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Gwen Torrence, Michael Johnson, Derek Mills, Mike Marsh, Dennis Mitchell, Bob Kennedy, Dean Starkey, Dan O'Brien, Kareem Street-Thompson and Kory Tarpenning have either been eliminated or are uninterested in taking part in the world championships."

Winner said that the American men's and women's team had finished an unimpressive sixth and eighth in the World Cup in September. He said: "The US should ask itself, `Is this the message we want to give?'

The Americans selected the first two from each race in Atlanta, but many top names failed to take part while others, including Johnson, said they were more concerned with preparing for the outdoor event in Gothenburg in August.

n An unconfirmed report yesterday cast doubt on Linford Christie's participation in the world indoor championships. In a German television interview after Saturday's 60m victory at Sindelfingen, Christie was asked through a translator if he would go to the championships in Barcelona. "I will be watching," he said. "There is no point in going there and getting injured for the outdoor season."

Last night, the British Athletic Federation were in the dark. "As far as we are concerned we have heard nothing and Linford is still in the team," the BAF spokesman Tony Ward said.

n Colin Jackson set an Australian all-comers record of 13.32sec to win the 110m hurdles at the Australian national titles in Sydney on Saturday.

n Paula Radcliffe had a runaway victory in Britain's trials for the World Cross-Country Championship, finishing half a minute clear of Angie Hulley.