IAAF's Jackie Brock-Doyle puts blame on Botswana for norovirus confusion at athletics World Championships

IAAF comms director Jackie Brock-Doyle has blamed the Botswana Athletics Association for confusion yesterday over the decision to bar an athlete from running a World Championships final amid a Norovirus outbreak.

Venning (right) tried to explain the IAAF's position to the BBC team
Venning (right) tried to explain the IAAF's position to the BBC team

Sports writers and commentators were left confused ahead of men's 400m in London last night due to an alleged lack of information about the participation of Botswana's Isaac Makwala and the outbreak of the highly contagious diarrhoea and vomiting bug Norovirus at an official event hotel.

Botswana's Isaac Makwala was not permitted to race, saying he had been barred by a medical officer for the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), but claiming he was fit to compete.

Guardian journalist Owen Gibson tweeted last night that the IAAF had released a statement about Makwala's withdrawal just minutes before the race was due to start.

London 2012 Olympics comms veteran Jackie Brock-Doyle, now executive director of comms for the IAAF, replied that body had "hoped Botswana would announce the details they were given", saying it was "not ideal" that Botswana's team had not made this public.

Confusion over the IAAF's position was expressed post-race by BBC presenter Gabby Logan and pundits Paula Radcliffe, Denise Lewis and Michael Johnson, in a terse and repetitive interview with IAAF head of medical services Dr Pam Venning (below).

The video of the interview has also been posted on the IAAF website, accompanied by a statement which concludes: "The IAAF is very sorry that the hard work and talent of Isaac Makwala won’t be on display tonight but we have to think of the welfare of all athletes."

Logan and her colleagues were criticised for their questioning of Venning during the 15-minute section. Makwala meanwhile has accused the IAAF of "sabotage".

The BBC has since released a statement on the matter. It says: "There were important questions for the IAAF to answer about the case of Isaac Makwala not being able to run in the Men's 400m final.

"We understand that some viewers were unhappy about the way in which Dr Pam Venning, Head of Medical Services at the IAAF, was questioned by our presentation team - but the tone of the questioning was respectful with Dr Venning able to present the IAAF's position clearly and effectively."

Brock-Doyle took up her role with the IAAF last year, after three years in agency roles initially as CEO of Good Relations, before moving to a role as a director of its owner CSM, following its 2015 takeover by Providence.

Prior to that, she was comms chief for LOCOG, the body organising the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London.

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