Francis dies after cancer battle

Updated: May 12, 2010, 5:01 PM ET
Associated Press

TORONTO -- Charlie Francis, who coached Ben Johnson when the sprinter became the first athlete to be stripped of an Olympic gold medal for using banned drugs, has died. He was 61.

According to a statement from his family, Francis died Wednesday at Toronto's Sunnybrook Hospital after a five-year battle with cancer.

Johnson tested positive for the steroid stanozolol after winning the 100 meters at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. Athletics Canada banned Francis from coaching for life after he told a 1989 inquiry into the scandal that he had introduced Johnson to steroids. At the inquiry, Francis said the use of performance-enhancing drugs in track and field was rampant.

Johnson was 15 when Francis began coaching him at the Scarborough Optimists track and field club. Francis was himself a champion sprinter for Canada in the early 1970s and reached the second round of the 100 at the 1972 Olympics in Munich.

While he was banned from coaching in Canada, he worked with American sprinters Tim Montgomery and Marion Jones in 2003. Both later confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs during their careers.

The Toronto native is survived by wife Angela and son James. Funeral arrangements have not been set.


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