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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Sprinter Ben Johnson to revisit scene of global disgrace

Sprinter Ben Johnson to revisit scene of global disgrace

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Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson (second from left) wins the final of the 100 metres in world record time at Seoul Olympic Stadium during the Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, on September 24, 1988. He was later disqualified for doping. Photo: Getty Images

Disgraced drugs cheat Ben Johnson will revisit the scene of his downfall this month, wrapping up a global anti-doping tour in the Seoul Olympic stadium where he won his steroid-assisted 100 metres gold.

The Canadian sprinter will visit the stadium on September 24 - the 25th anniversary of his run in the 1988 Olympic final in which he stormed to victory in a world record time of 9.79 seconds.

Three days later he was stripped of his medal, his time and ultimately his career after it was announced that he had tested positive for stanozolol, a banned anabolic steroid.

Johnson is now heading up the #ChooseTheRightTrack campaign, which calls for new strategies to combat continued drug use in athletics.

"On the 25th anniversary of my greatest and also my worst moment in history, I'm on a mission for change," Johnson said in an open letter on the campaign's website.

"Athletes' perceptions need to change. The system needs to change. Sport needs to change - before it's too late," he said.

Athletics has recently been rocked by a string of doping cases, including high-profile athletes like Tyson Gay, Asafa Powell and Veronica Campbell-Brown.

The sport's world governing body, the IAAF, announced last month that it would impose four-year bans for drug offenders from 2015.

"I was a drugs cheat and I only have myself to blame. I put chemicals inside my body without fully appreciating what it might do," Johnson said.

"It ruined my career. It ruined my reputation. It ruined my life."

Shane McKenzie
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T: | C: Athletics Australia iCoach Profile


He has no remorse. The first thing he did after he served his drug ban was get back on the drugs. He couldn't run without them.

"Courtesy of Ben Johnson: The fastest man on earth" by James Christie

age time

15 11.5
16 10.79
17 10.66
18 10.62
19 10.25
20 10.30
21 10.19
22 10.12
23 10.00
24 9.95
25 9.83
26 9.79
At a 1989 Canadian inquiry, though, Johnson admitted he had been prescribed steroids for seven years by his doctor, Jamie Astaphan, and coach, Charlie Francis. Then he began flying around the country, lecturing against drug use. Apparently, the people in Canada were willing to forgive. A recent national poll showed that 60 percent of Canadians thought the two-year suspension was fair. In September, the suspension was lifted, along with a lifetime ban from competing under the Canadian flag.


He has no remorse?

"I was a drugs cheat and I only have myself to blame. I put chemicals inside my body without fully appreciating what it might do," Johnson said.

"It ruined my career. It ruined my reputation. It ruined my life."

Sounds remorseful to me.


Trackstar wrote:He has no remorse?

"I was a drugs cheat and I only have myself to blame. I put chemicals inside my body without fully appreciating what it might do," Johnson said.

"It ruined my career. It ruined my reputation. It ruined my life."

Sounds remorseful to me.

He wouldn't have had a career without drugs...

"In 1991, after his suspension ended, he attempted a comeback. He returned to the track for the Hamilton Indoor Games in 1991 and was greeted by the largest crowd to ever attend an indoor Canadian track and field event. More than 17,000 people saw him finish second in the 50 metres in 5.77 seconds.

He failed to qualify for the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo but made the Canadian Olympic team again in 1992 in Barcelona, Spain after finishing second at the Canadian Olympic trials to Bruny Surin.[10] He missed the 100 metre finals at the Olympics however, finishing last in his semi-final heat after stumbling out of the blocks.

In 1993, he won the 50 metres on January 7 in Grenoble, France, in 5.65 seconds, just 0.04 seconds shy of the world record. However, he was found guilty of doping just after the race - this time for excess testosterone - and was subsequently banned for life by the IAAF. Federal amateur sport minister Pierre Cadieux called Johnson a national disgrace, and suggested he consider moving back to Jamaica. Johnson commented that it was "by far the most disgusting comment [he had] ever heard."[11] In April 1999, a Canadian adjudicator ruled that there were procedural errors in Johnson's lifetime ban and allowed him to appeal. The decision meant Johnson could technically run in Canada but nobody would compete against him. They would be considered "contaminated" by the IAAF and could also face sanctions. On June 12, 1999, Johnson entered a track meet in Kitchener, Ontario, and was forced to run alone, against the clock. He posted a time of 11.0 seconds. In late 1999, Johnson failed a drug test for the third time by testing positive for hydrochlorothiazide, a banned diuretic that can be used to mask the presence of other drugs. Johnson had not competed since 1993 and had arranged the test himself as part of his efforts to be reinstated".

He's the definition of a drug cheat. Look at his actions. The only thing Ben Johnson is remorseful about is the fact that he got caught.


He wouldn't have had a career without drugs...

That statement is not quite true. Ben Johnson was already an elite sprinter before Charlie Francis decided the only way to compete with other drug fuelled sprinters was to go down that path himself.  I suggest you read Speed Trap. Ben Johnson was a hugely talented & brilliant sprinter. Yes he took drugs, but so did many others in that era. Without the steroids he may not have run 9.78, but he still would have had a successful career. Sadly we will never know exactly how much of a difference it all made. Johnson was a product of his era. When the sitgma was nowhere near what it is today. The drug cheats of today are ten times worse because we are much more educated than we were 25 years ago. They should have learned from the Ben Johnson situation. Good on Johnson for his anti-doping stance.

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