Wayde van Niekerk has thrown his weight behind Caster Semenya in her fight with the IAAF.
LONDON - Wayde van Niekerk retained his world 400 metres title in dominant fashion on Tuesday as he stormed to victory in 43.98 seconds but there was almost as much interest in the empty lane alongside him where Botswana's Isaac Makwala should have been.
South African Van Niekerk, the Olympic and defending champion and world record holder, ran a controlled race and was even able to ease down over the final strides as he secured the first half of what he hopes will be a 400/200m double.
Steven Gardiner, 21, of the Bahamas was a clear second in 44.41 and 20-year-old world junior champion Abdalelah Haroun of Qatar blasted through at the end to snatch bronze in 44.48.
Wayde van Niekerk golden again.— Chris Chavez (@ChrisChavez) August 8, 2017
Wins the 400m final in 43.98
'15 World Champs --
'16 Olympics --
'17 World Champs -- pic.twitter.com/1gfbPaFshV
Makwala, third-fastest in the year this season, was scratched from the race earlier on Tuesday having also been withdrawn from Monday's 200m heats after vomiting before he got on to the track.
He insisted he wanted to run but IAAF officials ruled him out and refused him entry to the stadium amid a swathe of nanovirus and gastroenteritis cases that have affected about 30 athletes from a selection of countries.
In his absence, Van Nierkerk looked an even shorter-odds favourite and duly delivered, barely seeming out of breath when he crossed the line with his thoughts already turning to the 200m.
"I’ve got a good team to help me recover and its back to work tomorrow," he said.
Long-striding Gardiner, who set a national record 43.89 in the semis, could not quite reproduce that on a cold London night but looks equipped to challenge Van Niekerk in the future.
Haroun, who switched nationality from Sudan to Qatar two years ago, edged past Baboloki Thebe of Botswana and Jamaica's Nathon Allen in the final metres.
Fred Kerley had scraped into the final as a fast loser but finished last as the United States failed to medal in the event for only the second time since the championships began in 1983.