Buzzing on Yahoo Sports:

Fourth-Place Medal

Michael Johnson says slavery descendants run faster because of ‘superior athletic gene’

Fourth-Place Medal

(Getty Images)

Four-time gold medalist Michael Johnson believes the question of why black athletes dominate Olympic sprint competitions shouldn't be taboo. In the lead-up to the London Games, he's trying to broach the controversial topic.

Johnson, who recently had his lineage traced back to West Africa as part of a British documentary, told the Daily Mail that slavery has "left an imprint through the generations."

The eight men who ran in the 100-meter finals -- all African-American or African-Caribbean -- in Beijing are believed to have been descended from slaves, according to the documentary.

[ Related: Michael Johnson's golden runs in 1996 live on in Olympic history ]

"Difficult as it was to hear," Johnson said, "slavery has benefited descendants like me. I believe there is a superior athletic gene in us."

The Daily Mail explains:

Some scientists believe a combination of selective breeding by slave owners and appalling conditions meant that only the strongest slaves endured, creating a group predisposed to record-breaking athletic performance.

African slaves underwent a rigorous selection process and only the fittest were transported on ships.

Johnson's views on the genetics of slavery and his allusions to eugenics have been mostly ignored in the United States. The interview with the Daily Mail was published last Wednesday and barely made ripples across the pond. For good reason: It's a third rail topic in the states. Even intelligent debate on the subject runs the risk of becoming controversial. Any statement is treated as polarizing.

The comments section on the Daily Mail piece is a fine example. Either Johnson is a hero for bringing his views to light or he's ignorant for his "trash" beliefs. There's no middle ground in a topic like this.

See related Olympic video:

Other popular Olympic content on Yahoo! Sports:

Diving now en vogue in track and field

Joakim Noah latest NBA star sidelined for Olympics

Double amputee Oscar Pistorius will run in the Olympics after all

Win cash prizes, pick a fantasy roster for just one day, join in minutes!

Learn how to play

Contest Entries Entry Fee Prizes Starts (EDT)
NFL $350K Baller [$50K to 1st] 15875/39773 $10 $350000 Tomorrow 1:00 PM Enter
NFL $40K Tournament [Single Entry] 3801/9091 $5 $40000 Tomorrow 1:00 PM Enter
NBA $6K Tournament [$600 to 1st] 3694/6818 $1 $6000 Today 7:00 PM Enter
View Comments (5000)