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Ben Johnson’s fateful 100m race was 30 years ago Sunday

"The most famous cheating athlete in a generation of cheating athletes"

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The 30th anniversary of Ben Johnson’s ill-fated 100m race against Carl Lewis at the Seoul Olympics in 1988 passed without much fanfare on Sunday. 

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For two days, Johnson was the fastest man alive, at least by the 100m metric, and Canada’s star shone brightly. Against the brash American, Carl Lewis, who even the Americans didn’t like, according to Giddens. Those of us old enough to remember will recall how sick we felt when it was revealed that Johnson tested positive for the steroid stanozolol, and he was asked to return his gold medal.


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All but two of the men in that race, including Lewis, would eventually test positive for banned substances.

CBC sports reporter David Giddens caught up with Lewis at NACAC in Toronto this summer, and reports what Lewis had to say about the whole affair, 30 years later, in a story on the CBC website about the events leading up to that week in Seoul, what came after, and what it has meant to Canadians and the sports world. Giddens offered Johnson the chance to do the same, but Johnson declined, saying he has moved on.

Just how far he had moved on became apparent last year, when Johnson appeared in an Australian TV ad for a gambling app that made light of cheating in sport.