Jamaican-born Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson (pictured in middle), once the pride of Canada, would suffer a blow to his career after getting banned for life from the sport of track and field on this day in 1993.
Johnson exploded on the international scene in the world of track and field athletics, proving to be a game rival to U.S. star Carl Lewis (pictured left). Johnson would go on to become Canada’s top sprinter, nabbing Olympic gold at the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul.
Watch Johnson beat Lewis at the Seoul Olympics here:
Days later, it was discovered Johnson used a banned substance and later admitted to doping in an earlier race where he set the world record.
Consequently, Johnson was suspended by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAFF).
After returning to the sport in 1991, Johnson would eventually make the Canadian racing team in 1992 for that year’s Summer Games in Barcelona. For the second time, though, Johnson was caught using performance enhancers, with excess testosterone tipping testers off.
After a hearing, the IAFF would ban Johnson for life.
The scandal was especially explosive, and Johnson’s coach Charlie Francis asserted that Johnson was just one of dozens of track stars who doped before big races.
Unfortunately for Johnson, though, his repeat offenses singled him out overall.
Johnson never found his former fame again, engaging in charity events and coaching to make ends meet. One of Johnson’s coaching gigs was training now-deceased Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s son for his tryouts for an Italian soccer team. Ironically, Gaddafi’s son was cut from the team after testing positive for steroids.
Johnson has been critical of his rival Lewis in later interviews, adding to the claims that the American athlete used similar performance-enhancing drugs during his storied career.
Johnson currently resides in Canada and wrote a book in 2010 titled “Seoul to Soul,” which talked about his life in Jamaica and his time in the sport.
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