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Olympics: Australian sprinter banned over racism row

Published on Jan 31, 2013 3:45 PM

SYDNEY (AFP) - An Australian sprinter who claimed ahead of the London Olympics he was racially abused by officials and accused the athletics federation of vilification was on Thursday banned from competition for six months.

John Steffensen triggered controversy in the lead-up to last year's Games when he claimed that an Australian Olympic Committee staffer racially abused him in Beijing in 2008, an allegation supported by team captain Steve Hooker.

After he was overlooked for an individual 400m berth for London, Steffensen told Australian television he had "put up with being racially vilified by this federation, being discriminated against on many teams".

"You know it'd help if I was a different colour, then a lot of decisions with my federation would be totally different," said Steffensen, who represented Australia in the 4x400m relay in London.

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