By David Gold at the Dorchester Hotel in London 

Michael Johnson_Laureus_Summit_London_November__1_2011November 1 - Four-time Olympic gold medallist Michael Johnson has told insidethegames that the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) need to find a way of implementing a consistent rule to deter athletes from cheating.

Last month LaShawn Merritt had a ban that would have prevented him from defending his Olympic 400 metres title at London 2012 lifted after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled an IOC ban was untenable.

Merritt was banned for a failed drugs test in early 2010, but the IOC rule 45 - also known as the "Osaka rule" - means that any athlete banned for drugs use for more than six months will be unable to compete in the subsequent Olympics.

Though Johnson did not want to be drawn on Merritt's participation in London, he supported the principle of the IOC rule and hoped they could work with WADA to develop a consistent ruling.

"The IOC [rule 45] acts as a great deterrent to an athlete thinking of cheating if they know no matter what [they] do they are going to miss an Olympic Games," said Johnson, the first and only male athlete to win gold in both the 200m and 400m at an Olympics.

"I've been asked should LaShawn Merritt be able to compete but you know the rule is not about LaShawn Merritt - it's about how we keep athletes thinking of cheating from cheating.

"We have a better chance of doing that when the IOC and WADA work together and we have a consistent rule on the book.

"I don't think WADA have a problem with the IOC rule - it's just not part of their code.

"That is the bigger issue and we have to get to that.

"It's not an issue of whether LaShawn should compete, it's just a smaller part of a much bigger picture.

"Consistency across the board is what we should strive to get."

usain bolt_01-11-11
Johnson also spoke of his admiration for triple Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt (pictured), saying that he would go down as one of the greats even if he did not race again.

"I think if he never ran another race he's one of the best of all time," Johnson told insidethegames during the Laureus Global Summit here.

"He is such an incredible athlete - there has never been anyone else like him.

"It'll be interesting to see how the rest of this career plays out what he does at this point."

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