Ben Johnson Wins Temporary Gold – 9/24/1988

US History |


On September 24th of 1988, a sprinter from Canada named Ben Johnson won an Olympic Gold medal in the 100-meter dash at the Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. He finished the race in 9.79 seconds. Unfortunately, three days later, Johnson tested positive for steroids and was forced to give back the medal. The medal was then given to the second place finisher, Carl Lewis. 

Ben Johnson was a Canadian sprinter, born in Jamaica in 1961. His family moved to Toronto when Ben was in his teens, and Ben soon began training with the Scarborough Optimists Track & Field Club. Throughout his brief and questionable career, he won many medals in numerous world class events. Ben Johnson's main rival was Carl Lewis, a talented runner who could beat Ben only by a small margin. Soon, Ben Johnson's goal became to beat Carl Lewis.

However, Johnson was disqualified from the 1987 World Indoor Championship in Indianapolis, the 1987 World Championship in Rome, and the 1988 summer Olympics in Seoul, for using steroids. It seems likely that he was doping for other races too. By the time of the 1987 World Indoor Championship, Johnson had already beat Carl Lewis four times in a row. In fact, Johnson was named Athlete of the Year for 1987 by the Associated Press. Johnson was also accepting nearly half a million dollars a month in endorsement deals.

It was Carl Lewis who first suggested that Ben Johnson might be taking steroids, and Carl should know. He was taking them too. This intensified the rivalry leading up to the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. It is becoming fairly common knowledge that most professional athletes take anabolic steroids. It's the only way they can keep up with all the other athletes, who are also taking anabolic steroids. Every now and then, one athlete gets caught. This time, it was Ben Johnson. In fact, six of the eight finalists in the 100-meter race in Seoul later tested positive for some type of banned substance. Among them were Carl Lewis, Linford Christie, Desai Williams, and Dennis Mitchell.

Ben Johnson's coach, Charlie Francis, wrote a book called Speed Trap, in which he freely admitted that all his athletes were taking anabolic steroids, as all other athletes did. Charlie Francis also admitted that Ben Johnson had been using steroids since 1981.

In 1991, after his suspension was up, Ben Johnson tried to stage a comeback. More than 17,000 people came to watch him come in second in the 50 meter race. It was the largest crowd ever to attend a Canadian indoor track and field event. His time was 5.77 seconds. 

On January 7th of 1993, Ben Johnson won the 50 meter race in Grenoble, France, in 5.65 seconds. This was only 0.04 seconds away from the world record. However, it was discovered after the race that Ben was doping again, and he was subsequently banned for life by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

Despite the fact that everyone was doing it, Johnson was considered a national disgrace, and it was suggested that he move back to Jamaica. 

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Charlie Rodriguez


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