|Oscar Pistorius will run in the 400m. (US Presswire)|
The amount of talking being done, and the takedowns coming with this chatter in the lead-up to London has been unlike anything I can remember in the history of the Olympics.
Think about it. Can you recall a time when we've had so much verbal athlete-on-athlete crime?
We've had legendary track athlete Carl Lewis doubting Usain Bolt, who is threatening to tie Lewis' record of being the only man to win two 100-meter dashes. American track star Dawn Harper has made comments about her frustration over Lolo Jones' popularity. We've had young Tyler Clary go after Michael Phelps for the latter's work ethic and attitude.
Now, Michael Johnson is saying his friend, Oscar Pistorius, shouldn't be allowed to run in the Olympics. Like Johnson did in the '90s, Pistorius will run in the 400-meter dash.
I can't help but wonder what it's like to be Pistorius right now. I do not envy the man for myriad reasons, but this latest bit of news? Having one of the greatest American runners ever openly state he's against your inclusion into the Olympics? Heck of a favor there. Pistorious is unable to walk into the Olympics without throngs of doubters and detractors. It's a damn shame that Johnson is one of them.
Johnson told the London Telegraph the science hasn't convinced him Pistorius should be running in anything but the Paralympics. Johnson doesn't come off well here, even if his words surrounding the sentiment are kind and full of caveats. The headline rings true: Johnson doesn't think Pistorius should run in the Olympics, and saying this 10 days out from the start of the Games doesn't do his friend any favors.
When asked ... whether he thought Pistorius's inclusion was political correctness gone mad or an inspiring human story, the 44 year-old said: “I think it is both. I know Oscar well, and he knows my position; my position is that because we don't know for sure whether he gets an advantage from the prosthetics that he wears it is unfair to the able-bodied competitors.
"That is hard for a lot of people to take and to understand when you are talking about an athlete and an individual who has a disability.
The four-time 400m world champion continued: "Because his personal best is 45 seconds – and that is not enough to win medals – people generally will take the approach [that] he should be allowed to run, 'let him run, it's great.'
"The issue here, and how it has to be approached, is that it has to be approached not taking in to account any particular athlete – so this has to not be about Oscar Pistorius.
"I consider Oscar a friend of mine, but he knows I am against him running, because this is not about Oscar; it's not about him as an individual, it is about the rules you will make and put in place for the sport which will apply to anyone, and not just Oscar. If it was just about Oscar my position would be: ‘Absolutely, let him run.'"
Johnson, who is No. 5 on our list of the greatest American Olympians of all-time, continued his case by stating a hypothetical. His point here is clear, but an unlikely scenario. Johnson suggested a world-class runner getting injured, losing both his legs, then running a time on Pistorius-like blades -- and finishing faster.
OK, yeah ... cross that bridge when we meet it. Which will likely never happen. Think about how improbably Pistorius' story is now before going off into la-la land and conjuring up scenes of crippled Olympians coming back to the track with fake legs and wiping out world records.
Pistorius has been without legs since he was 11 months old. There is no reset button on his life or career. This is who he's been. Remarkably, he's crossed into Olympic competition. And now the peanut gallery's commentary isn't enough. He's got the heavy words of a track legend reverberating in his head as he prepares to run the most public race in the most public moment of his life.