Anti-doping crusader Ben Johnson returns to scene of his 100m shame

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 September, 2013, 3:28am


Disgraced drug cheat Ben Johnson returned yesterday to Seoul's Olympic Stadium, 25 years to the day of the steroid-assisted 100-metres final victory that destroyed his athletic career and reputation.

The Canadian sprinter revisited the site of his stunning triumph and downfall to bring an anti-doping message for a sport still struggling to rid itself of banned substance use.

"It feels good to be back," Johnson said as he stepped on to the track where, at 1.30pm on September 24, 1988, he lined up for a 100m final that would become known as the "dirtiest race in history".

"This is where history was made," Johnson said. "Some might call it bad history, but I don't see it that way."

First out of the blocks in the final, Johnson destroyed a field that included rival Carl Lewis and 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.

Six of the eight finalists would eventually be caught doping, including Lewis, who it was later revealed had tested positive at the US Olympic trials that year.

Johnson has admitted to years of steroid use, although he still claims that he was set up in Seoul by a drink spiked with stanozolol. His return to the city was the final leg of a global tour as standard bearer of the ChooseTheRightTrack campaign, which calls for new strategies to combat continued drug use in athletics.

The sport has been rocked by a string of doping cases, including high-profile athletes 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. Seven athletes, including one finalist, tested positive for doping at the world titles in Moscow last month.