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Athletics: Toronto sprint showdown was a `circus'

The head of track and field's world governing body has criticized the 150-metre match race between Donovan Bailey and Michael Johnson as "a circus" and said a rematch would not be sanctioned.

Primo Nebiolo, the president of the International Amateur Athletic Federation, said last Sunday's showdown at Toronto's Skydome went outside the IAAF's rules by having just two runners, instead of at least four.

"Some people have already talked about a rematch in Las Vegas," Nebiolo was reported as saying yesterday. "You can forget about that under these conditions. Our federation will not give authorisation and, without that, you can't do anything. This is not sports as entertainment, but more like something out of a circus. And we're not interested in it."

Bailey, the Olympic 100-metre champion, won Sunday's race as Johnson, the 200 and 400 champion, pulled up halfway with a quadriceps injury.

The Canadian's approach to the event has been heavily criticised by Michael Johnson's coach. He has described the coach and staff who handle Bailey as "about as low as you can get" if they had ordered the world 100 metres record holder to go out fast and try to force Johnson to hurt himself.

"His [Bailey's] coach was quoted in a Toronto paper in detail as saying that's what their game plan was," Clyde Hart, the head coach at Baylor University, said at the US collegiate championships in Bloomington, Indiana. "If that's the case, that's about as low as you can get."