Ben Johnson
Sport Track and Field
Personal Information
Birthdate December 30, 1961
Height 5'10"
Weight 170
Country Canada
Hometown Falmouth, Trelawny Parish, Jamaica

Ben's hometown

Benjamin Sinclair "Ben" Johnson, is a Canadian former sprinter, who won two Olympic bronze medals and an Olympic gold medal, which was later rescinded. He set consecutive 100 meter world records at the 1987 World Championships in Athletics and the 1988 Summer Olympics, but he was disqualified for doping, losing the Olympic title and both records. Born in Falmouth, Jamaica, Johnson emigrated to Canada in 1976, residing in Scarborough, Ontario.

1988 Summer Olympics Edit

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Leading up to the 1988 Summer Olympics, a fierce rivalry had developed between Carl Lewis of the United States and Ben Johnson.  At the 1987 World Championships in Rome, Johnson gained instant world fame and confirmed this status when he beat Lewis for the title, setting a new world record of 9.83 seconds as well, beating Calvin Smith's former record by a full tenth of a second.    

On September 24, 1988, in what has been called the "Dirtiest Race in History", Johnson won the 100m final at the
Summer Olympics in Seoul, lowering his own world record to 9.79 seconds. However, Park Jong-sei of the Olympic Doping Control Center found that Johnson's urine samples contained stanozolol, and he was disqualified three days later. He later admitted having used steroids when he ran his 1987 world record, which caused the IAAF to rescind that record as well. Johnson and coach Francis complained that they used doping in order to remain on an equal footing with the other top athletes on drugs they had to compete against. In testimony before the Dubin inquiry into drug use, Francis charged that Johnson was only one of many cheaters, and he just happened to get caught. Later, six of the eight finalists of the 100-meter race tested positive for banned drugs or were implicated in a drug scandal at some point in their careers: Carl Lewis, who was given the gold medal, Linford Christie, who was moved up to the silver medal and who went on to win gold at the next Games, Dennis Mitchell, who was moved up to fourth place and finished third to Christie in 1992, and Desai Williams, Johnson's countryman who won a bronze medal at the Los Angeles Games in 1984. In the ESPN documentary 9.79*, eventual silver medalist Christie states, and footage of the race shows, that Lewis "ran out of his lane... two or three times" during the race, which should have resulted in Lewis' automatic disqualification.

Johnson's coach, Charlie Francis, freely admits that his athletes were taking anabolic steroids, as he claims all top athletes at the time were, and also claims that Johnson could not possibly have tested positive for that particular steroid since Johnson actually preferred furazabol. He thought stanozolol made his body "feel tight". The numerous athletes using performance enhancing drugs at the time understood how long before a race, and possible drug test, they should stop using the drugs. Johnson later claimed that André A. Jackson, Lewis' Santa Monica Track Club teammate, who was inside the drug testing room in Seoul, may have placed the stanozolol in one of the beers Johnson drank in order to make urine for his test.


In 1991, after his suspension ended, he attempted a comeback. He returned to the track for the Hamilton Indoor Games in 1991 and was greeted by the largest crowd to ever attend an indoor Canadian track and field event. More than 17,000 people saw him finish second in the 50 meter in 5.77 seconds.

He failed to qualify for the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo but made the Canadian Olympic team again in 1992 in Barcelona, Spain after finishing second at the Canadian Olympic trials to Bruny Surin. He missed the 100 meter finals at the Olympics however, finishing last in his semi-final heat after stumbling out of the blocks.

In 1993, he won the 50 meter on January 7 in Grenoble, France, in 5.65 seconds, just 0.04 seconds shy of the world record. However, he was found guilty of doping just after the race - this time for excess testosterone - and was subsequently banned for life by the IAAF. Federal amateur sport minister Pierre Cadieux called Johnson a national disgrace, and suggested he consider moving back to Jamaica. Johnson commented that it was "by far the most disgusting comment [he had] ever heard." In April 1999, a Canadian adjudicator ruled that there were procedural errors in Johnson's lifetime ban and allowed him to appeal. The decision meant Johnson could technically run in Canada but nobody would compete against him. They would be considered "contaminated" by the IAAF and could also face sanctions. On June 12, 1999, Johnson entered a track meet in Kitchener, Ontario, and was forced to run alone, against the clock. He posted a time of 11.0 seconds. In late 1999, Johnson failed a drug test for the third time by testing positive for hydrochlorothiazide, a banned diuretic that can be used to mask the presence of other drugs. Johnson had not competed since 1993 and had arranged the test himself as part of his efforts to be reinstated.

Notable RacesEdit

Year Event Athletic Event Result
1982 Commonwealth Games

4x100m relay

1982 Commonwealth Games 100m Silver
1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics 100m Bronze
1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics 4x00m relay Bronze
1985 World Cup 100m Gold
1985 World Indoor Championships 60m Gold
1986 Goodwill Games 100m Gold
1986 Commonweath Games 4x100m relay Gold
1986 Commonwealth Games 100m Gold
1986 Commonwealth Games 200m Bronze
1987 World Championships 100m Disqualified
1988 Seoul Summer Olympics 100m Disqualified