May 25, 1997 in Sports

Johnson Questions Bailey’s Character

Associated Press

One week before his million-dollar match race against Donovan Bailey, Michael Johnson made it clear Saturday that this is far from a friendly rivalry.

“I don’t respect him as a man who claims to be a good person, a fair person,” Johnson said of the Olympic 100-meter gold medalist. “If he claims that’s the kind of person he is, that he’s a fair man and a good man, I don’t respect him for that because he’s done some things I think are contrary to that.”

Asked for examples, Johnson didn’t hesitate.

“Like training in the United States under an American coach and calling the American public ignorant,” Johnson said, referring to comments Bailey made after not making the cover of Sports Illustrated after the Olympics. “I think that’s contrary to being a good and fair person.

“By not respecting me and what I’ve done out on the track when I respect him and what he’s done out on the track.”

In Eugene to run the 200 meters in today’s Prefontaine Classic, Johnson sounded like a boxer degrading an opponent.

Johnson said he ignores Bailey’s flamboyant demeanor as he prepares for the June 1 150-meter match race in Toronto. Each runner will get $500,000. Another $1 million goes to the winner.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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