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Ben Johnson

Stripped Of His World Records

Johnson lost all his endorsement contracts, and officials considered stripping him of his 1987 Rome victory. Francis testified in 1989 that Johnson had indeed taken steroids before setting his Rome world record. In 1989, the International Amateur Athletic Foundation passed a resolution stating that as of January 1, 1990, Johnson's previous world records would be declared invalid. As of that date, Carl Lewis held the record for the 100 meters with a time of 9.92, and lee McRae held the 60-meter record with a time of 6.50.

In 1990, Johnson was reinstated to Olympic competition. He began working with a new coach, Loren Sea-grave, and planned to compete in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. He told Nancy Wood in Maclean's, "I'll win the gold medal for sure." However, when he went to the Olympics, he did not make it into the final competition in the 100 meters. In January of 1992, Johnson competed in a Montreal track meet, where he was tested for drugs and found to be using testosterone. As a result, the International Amateur Athletic Foundation slapped him with a lifetime ban from competition.


1961 Born in Falmouth, Jamaica
1972 Moves to Canada with his mother and siblings
1984 Competes in Summer Olympics, wins two bronze medals
1987 Earns four indoor world records
1988 Wins gold medal in Seoul Olympics, but it is stripped when his drug use is revealed
1988 Banned from competition for two years
1990 Reinstated to Olympic eligibility
1990 Stripped of his world records
1992 Fails to make finals in Barcelona Olympic 100 meters
1993 Banned from competition for life after testing positive for drugs
1999 Appeals life ban, but is denied

Awards and Accomplishments

1987 Sets four indoor world records, but they are later stripped because Johnson set them while on drugs
1988 Wins gold in 100 meters in Seoul Olympics, but it is stripped from him when his drug use is revealed

In Maclean's, Mary Nemeth quoted Carl Lewis's agent, Joe Douglas, who said of Johnson's career, "I think his entire life has been a make-believe world. He has talent, but his performances are chemical.… When you lose everything, I don't think anybody should be surprised that there's temptation." In 1999, Johnson appealed to be reinstated to competition, but his appeal was denied. Johnson told Charles P. Pierce in Esquire, "I cannot get my name back. Over the years, the media make me a monster, a villain. They make me a one-way figure on a two-way street."

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsTrack and FieldBen Johnson Biography - Shy And Quiet, Trains With Charles Francis, The Fastest Man In The World, Stripped Of His Gold Medal