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Carl Lewis - Lewis And Ben Johnson

Famous Sports StarsTrack and FieldCarl Lewis Biography - Growing Up, The "next Jesse Owens", The 1984 Olympics, Chronology, Awards And Accomplishments - CONTACT INFORMATION, SELECTED WRITINGS BY LEWIS:

Lewis and Ben Johnson

As the 1988 Olympics approached, Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson emerged as Lewis's top sprinting rival. At the 1987 World Track Championships in Rome, Johnson beat Lewis and set a new world record of 9.83 seconds in the 100-meter, while Lewis ran a 9.93. While in Rome, Johnson's coach was overheard making a comment that implied Johnson was taking steroids to enhance his performance. Word got back to Lewis. "A lot of people have come from nowhere and are running unbelievably," Lewis told a reporter. "There are gold medalists at this meet already that are on drugs," he added, but didn't reveal any names. In 1988, Lewis beat Johnson at a meet in Zurich, where he heard another allegation that Johnson was using performance-enhancing drugs.

At the Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, just before Lewis and Johnson raced in the 100-meter dash, the two shook hands. "As I looked at him," Lewis recalled in Inside Track, "I noticed that his eyes were very yellow. A sign of steroid use." Johnson took first in the race with a record-breaking 9.79 seconds, while Lewis took second with 9.92. Lewis thought he'd failed in his goal to win another gold medal in the 100-meter for his father. But before the games were over, Johnson tested positive for steroid use and was stripped of the record and the medal. Lewis was awarded the gold instead. He also won the gold for the long jump with a jump of 28 feet, 71/2 inches, and won a silver medal in the 200-meter (his friend Joe DeLoach took the gold).

Lewis continued to speak out against steroid use. He testified before a U.S. congressional committee on the subject, and he called for an independent drug-testing agency to monitor each sport. Once, speaking to a group of college students, he implied that he thought fellow U.S. Olympic athlete Florence Griffith-Joyner used steroids—but the charges were never proved, and Lewis backed down from his statement.

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