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Steffensen mantains racial abuse claims
08:30 AEST Mon Jul 16 2012

Controversial runner John Steffensen maintains he has been racially vilified by Athletics chiefs despite being included in a provisional list to compete in the individual 400m in London.

Steffensen revealed on the Nine Network this morning that he had complained to Athletics Australia about the racial abuse but the governing body had not acted.

Steffensen had threatened a boycott of the Olympics before launching an incredible tirade on Saturday morning after his rival Steve Solomon was named as the only athlete on the provisional list. Neither runner had posted an automatic qualifying time.

Athletics Australia chief Dallas O'Brien claimed over the weekend that John Steffensen's claims of racism are "regrettable" but no disciplinary action will be taken against the 400m runner.

AA will choose one of the athletes, who will train together in London.

They have both already been picked for the 4x400m relay.

"I've put up with being racially vilified by this federation, being discriminated against on many teams," he said of AA's decision to name the 19-year-old Solomon ahead of him for the one-lap race.

"...You think I waste my time running at training for fun? For this?

"No, they can have athletics. I don't need to do this no more."

"I don't think it helps the legitimacy of our sport or the selection criteria, and I think it only makes our sport look stupid.

"The rules and the goalposts are getting shifted. Now they're going to pick who they want to put in the team.

"You know it would help if I was a different colour.

"A lot of my decisions with my federation would be totally different.

"But I've never brought that up. I've always kept quiet on that. Because people aren't really going to want to hear that sort of stuff.

"I was going to run the relay and go home and do the right thing by the sport.

"Now I'm saying something because they're not doing the right thing by me.

"And at age 30 and the amount of years and effort I've put into the sport, the medals - everything I've done for the sport - I deserve a little bit of respect."

But O'Brien said AA made the call after only being allowed to nominate one Australian athlete under IAAF rules.

"We didn't have anywhere to move," O'Brien told Fox Sports.

"John has his own opinions. I think that's probably a statement he may regret making in future times when things settle down."

"It's an emotional business this and it's regrettable what John has said, that's a shock."

Solomon burst into contention for the individual run by posting a career-best 45.52s at the world junior championships in Barcelona this week.

Steffensen, who set his best time for the year of 45.61s in February in Sydney, defeated Solomon at the Olympic trial in March before suffering a hamstring injury that has plagued his London preparations.

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