Authorities deny making payment to Johnson

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The Independent Online
Michael Johnson's non-appearance at the Crystal Palace Grand Prix last July, generated fresh controversy yesterday as claims were made by his agent that he had received pounds 45,000 in settlement for the dispute. That was flatly denied by both the British Athletic Federation and the International Amateur Athletic Federation.

Brad Hunt, who oversees Johnson's business affairs, said yesterday that the double Olympic champion had received the payments from the IAAF three months ago.

At the time of the Grand Prix, shortly before the Olympics, Johnson claimed the BAF had reneged on an agreement that he should run in the 400 metres, and he turned down suggestions that he should run another distance.

"The IAAF were well aware that we were planning legal proceedings against the BAF," Hunt said. "They don't want to see the sport sorting out its problems in the law courts and so they agreed to deal with the matter internally."

Hunt said he forwarded all relevant documents to the IAAF secretary, Istvan Gyulai, and a decision on the matter was taken at the IAAF council meeting shortly before the athletics programme in Atlanta.

However, Giorgio Reineri, the IAAF spokesman, said yesterday: "We have made no payment to Johnson for this and nor do we plan to. I'm mystified that Hunt is saying these things."

Peter Radford, the BAF executive chairman, commented: "An offer was made which Johnson rejected and then he wanted to bring seven athletes with him to the meeting as part of the deal. This is a common requirement these days but we didn't accept it. As far as I'm aware we don't have a problem with Johnson."

Hunt confirmed that Johnson, who plans to do only one event at this year's World Championships, would be willing to run in Britain now that Radford has announced his resignation.

"The subject is now open for question again, although we have not had any discussions," Hunt said.

n Dionicio Ceron, the Mexican who has won a hat-trick of London Marathon titles, said yesterday that he would not be running in the event this year.