Past Olympics Athletes >> Ben Johnson
Track and Field
- Date of birth
Olympic Games (1 medal - 1 bronze)
- 100m: 3rd (1984)
- 100m: 1st (1988/disqualified following a positive dope test)
- 100m: 1st (1987/later disqualified following a positive dope test)
Commonwealth Games (2 medals - 1 gold, 1 silver)
- 100m: 1st (1986), 2nd (1982)
The man forever tainted by scandal
Ben Johnson is positive!
That was the news following the victory and new world record of the Canadian in the 100m in the 1988 Games in Seoul.
It was the first time a leading athlete had been caught red-handed in a doping affair. Anabolic steroids, namely stanozolol, led to Johnson's immediate expulsion and subsequent ban.
The image of a shaven-headed, robust Johnson crossing the finish line in a time of 9.79 sec, finger pointed victoriously towards the sky while Carl Lewis looked on humiliated, was one that quickly symbolised Johnson's guilt, and his co-athletes' innocence.
His penalty, for what he admitted during the inquiry was a systematic programme of doping, was a two-year suspension from all competition and the erasure of all his records. This, however, proved only the first step on Johnson's long association with illegal substances.
Johnson was the second-last child in a family of ten children which moved to Toronto in 1976 when he was 15 years old. At that time, he met Charles Francis, a coach who was once a Canadian 100m champion.
World record also erased
At the age of 16 (1.62m/42kg), Johnson ran the 100m in a time of 11.24. Two years later, and having grown to 1.75m/62kg, he improved to around the ten second mark. By the time of the Los Angeles Games, Johnson marked his arrival on the world scene with a bronze medal.
In the world championships in Rome, Johnson exploded. He beat Lewis, his main adversary, and also lowered the world record to 9.83 - one of the times erased from the record books following his later confession.
Johnson attempted a return to action in 1991. In 1992 in the Barcelona Games he was eliminated in the quarter-finals of the 100m.
His former doping days would come back to haunt him on January 17, 1993 in Montreal when he was discovered to have an excessive testosterone level. He was banned for life and turned to other pursuits.
In 1997, Johnson made the headlines after he became the personal trainer of one football's most famous sons...Diego Maradona.
Then, at the end of November 1998, the sprinter-turned-personal trainer went to Israel to establish an athletics training program for Maccabi Tel Aviv, one of the country's leading sports clubs.
Only days before the start of the 1999 world championships in Seville, Johnson was notified of his unsuccessful appeal from a special IAAF commission.
In April 1999, Johnson was once more allowed to engage in sports activities in Canada, with the exception of athletics - on the condition that he passed a six month period without testing positive for any drugs.
In October, in his second test, he tested positive for hydrochlorothiazide, a diuretic which is known for its masking qualities. An unenviable record: Johnson became the first athlete to test positive three times.
At the end of 1999, Johnson found himself in demand once again. This time the disgraced sprinter would be helping to improve the fitness of Saadi Ghadaffi, a member of the Libyan national football team and the son of Colonel Ghadaffi, the head of state.
Saadi Ghadaffi admitted to having specifically sought Johnson out on the advice of...Diego Maradona.
Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.