Ben Johnson given ban for life

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The Independent Online
BEN JOHNSON, who brought shame to athletics when he was stripped of the Olympic 100 metres title in Seoul five years ago for taking steroids, received a life ban from competition yesterday after a second positive drug test, writes Mike Rowbottom.

The doping commission of the International Amateur Athletic Federation confirmed, after a special meeting in Paris, that a test carried out on the Canadian sprinter at an indoor meeting in Montreal on 17 January had shown levels of testosterone in his urine 10 times above normal - an indication that performance-enhancing steroids had been taken.

Johnson, who has denied taking any illegal drugs since his return from the two-year suspension he received in 1988, has the right to appeal to his national federation, Athletics Canada.

The latest finding has shocked those involved in the sport. In Canada, Johnson achieved a measure of forgiveness for being the man who went from hero to zero in Seoul by lecturing at schools and colleges on the dangers and folly of drug abuse.

In an interview on German television last month he denied that he would take drugs again, and predicted that his career 'was not over by a long way'.

Frank Mann, competitions director for the IAAF world indoor championships, which start in Johnson's home city of Toronto on Friday, said: 'A lot of people here - coaches and athletes - are dismayed that he could have gone down the same road again.'

Carl Lewis, who replaced Johnson as the 1988 Olympic champion, had little sympathy. 'I'm not terribly surprised,' he said. 'Ben had to start running better or start looking for a job. If he used drugs I'm glad he got caught.'

Damaging affair, page 56