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The corruption scandal plaguing athletics is worse than the one faced by football, says four-time Olympic gold medallist Michael Johnson.

Three senior IAAF officials were banned for life for alleged doping breaches.

And Russia is currently banned from all athletics competitions following accusations of widespread doping.

Asked how the scandal facing athletics compared to that of Fifa, Johnson told the BBC: “If you think about the victims, it is absolutely worse.”

Fifa, the body that governs world football, is also in crisis following a series of damaging corruption claims.

Its president, Sepp Blatter, has been banned for eight years for breaching ethics rules.

In an interview with Mishal Husain, Johnson said that those athletes cheated out of medals by dopers “never had the opportunity to stand on the podium – and they should have”.

However, he stopped short of backing an Olympic ban for Russian athletes later this year.

“Do you ban an entire country that ostensibly could include clean athletes, from participating in Rio?” asked the American, who still holds the world and Olympic records for the 400m.

“That is a very difficult decision to make.”

Michael Johnson world record
Johnson’s world record for 400m has stood for more than 16 years
Johnson was also cool on the idea, floated by chairman of UK Athletics Ed Warner, of resetting all world records so athletics could stat afresh with a level playing field.

“It doesn’t make sense to me how a reset of all the world records is going to deal with the issue of people cheating,” Johnson said.

“It doesn’t create a clean competition and that does not deter anyone from cheating.”

But he does believe the International Association of Athletics Federations must be “completely restructured”.

“It is the governing body – and the very structure of the governing body – that has allowed this type of corruption,” he said.

A report by the World Anti-Doping Agency’s independent commission was scathing of former IAAF president Lamine Diack, whose 16-year reign came to an end in August 2015 when he was replaced by Lord Coe.

It claimed that “corruption was embedded” in the organisation and said it could not be ignored or dismissed as attributable to “the odd renegade acting on his own”.

It concluded: “The IAAF allowed the conduct to occur and must accept its responsibility.”

Johnson said he hoped the crisis would be the catalyst for “a fresh look” at all the problems facing athletics and would help rebuild trust with fans.