French walking star Diniz loses cool over Doha weather conditions

Doha (AFP) –


French race walker Yohann Diniz on Friday slammed the organisers of the World Athletics Championships in Doha over the way he and his rivals in the 50-kilometre event have been treated compared to the other athletes.

The 41-year-old Frenchman -- who is the world record holder and defending world champion in the event -- said at a press conference on the eve of the men and women's 50km walk the walkers had been taken for "idiots" by the organisers in the Qatari capital.

Athletes competing in the stadium will find it air-conditioned to a comfortable 24-25 degrees Celsius.

But race walkers will compete on roads in Doha, leading Diniz to claim they were being treated like "guinea pigs" by having to perform in temperatures expected to be around 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) with the added complication of high levels of humidity.

"I am disgusted by the conditions," the Frenchman said.

"I have come here in top form but there are plenty of things which could prevent me from performing at a good level.

"All the athletes will start (at 2030GMT) but being outside the stadium they take us for idiots.

"I am extremely upset. If we were in the stadium we would have normal conditions, between 24-25 degrees, but outside they have placed us in a furnace, which is just not possible.

"They are making us guinea pigs."

Diniz, a three-time European champion, should get a better idea of how athletes perform in the conditions outside the stadium when the women's marathon is run later on the opening day of the championships on Friday -- it starts at midnight local time.

"There was a questionnaire asking how we were going to deal with the heat and the humidity and we were able to take a capsule (thermometer) to show how we reacted to the thermo-regulation.

"But for those events taking place outside the stadium it was not an option... it really annoys me and I am regretting being here.

"We are going to start and finish in the equivalent of Dante's Inferno-type conditions."

Diniz said he would not be walking tactically as there was no point.

"Tomorrow it will be a lottery," he said. "The (lottery) balls will fall one by one and it will be the last one that falls which will win."