First Take debate: Michael Johnson's comments about sprinters' ability, 'slavery'

July, 5, 2012
7/05/12
3:56
PM ET

In an interview with The Daily Mail earlier this week, Michael Johnson said he believes black athletes from the United States and Caribbean have a "superior athletic gene" because they are descendants of West African slaves, which will give them a competitive edge at the London Olympics.

Johnson, currently a commentator for the BBC, told the British newspaper:

"Over the last few years, athletes of Afro-Caribbean and Afro-American descent have dominated athletics finals. It's a fact that hasn't been discussed openly before. It's a taboo subject in the States, but it is what it is. Why shouldn't we discuss it? It is currently being researched to see how much of a factor being descended from slaves contributes to athletic ability.

"All my life I believed I became an athlete through my own determination, but it's impossible to think that being descended from slaves hasn't left an imprint through the generations. Difficult as it was to hear, slavery has benefited descendants like me –- I believe there is a superior athletic gene in us."

ESPN's First Take panel debates Johnson's comments:






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