Yes, I was there when it happened, standing high up in the stadium in Seoul, next to Charlie Francis, when Ben Johnson won his 100 meter final in an unforgettable way. It’s probably the picture and the 100 meter race that everybody around at that time, still knows. But the more impressive, in a negative sense, was the news that Ben tested positive and had to be escorted to the airport. It felt like an earthquake happening.
And the public opinion was clear about the “doping cheater”: from hero to zero in 9.79 seconds, from proud Canadian to dirty Jamaican. What a sinner he was. Even at the time of the Dubin Inquiry most people thought he was the only sprinter in that race who took drugs to enhance his performance. But as the years went by, a different picture evolved, the situation wasn’t as clear cut and clean as many people thought.
First of all from the very start, there was the steady denial of Charlie and Ben of Ben having taken steroids in the time before that race. And there were other strange things happening, one of them was that one of the lab assistants had leaked the story. Another one was the presence of a friend of Carl Lewis, Andre Jackson, not an athlete, doctor or team manager, turning up at Ben’s doping test. A story that is well-known but his exact role never became clear.
In the meanwhile it also became clear that other athletes in that race probably weren’t as clean as they maybe should have been. Linford Christie already tested positive on ephedrine, but got away with that, the suggestion it was in the ginseng tea in the Olympic village. Strange, since for sure, he had not been the only athlete drinking that tea and got tested. But nobody else tested positive on ephedrine.
Other athletes also were suspect of having taking drugs, like Desai Williams (testimony of Dr.Astaphan, the doctor of Charlie’s team), Dennis Mitchell, who in 1998 tested positive on steroids, blaming beer and sex for that positive test. And, of course, Carl Lewis, who was given the gold medal after Ben was stripped from his. Carl Lewis who during the US trials to qualify for the Seoul Olympics had tested positive on banned stimulants, but got away with it, somehow. This raises the question why it is on the banned list, if an athlete like Carl Lewis can take it with any penalty? (good reading about this race: “The Dirtiest Race in History” by Richard Moore or “Speed Trap” by Charlie Francis)
Ben always insisted that test in Seoul was spiked or fabricated. Now last week, the real testing results of that test appeared in the press. And guess what…. it shows at least that the test results were tinkered with in a totally unacceptable way. The original computerized finding of oxandrolone, a completely different molecular structure from stanozolol, was scratched out and replaced by a handwritten: stanozolol. On top of that, Ben’s lab code on the report was change by handwriting. Another question to as is why the officials kept this report a well-guarded secret form 30 years, if nothing was wrong?
Now you might think this is an exceptional case, but it turns out not to be. In the days before the Seoul Olympic Belgian marathon runner Ria van Landeghem tested positive on ……. Oxandrolon and was stopped from competing at the Olympics in Seoul. Just three years ago, also she had her test results reviewed by lab technicians, who have worked at accredited doping labs. They clearly stated that this finding was wrong!
A recent case is the case of Alex Schwazer, the Italian Race walker and Olympic champion on the 50 km in 2008. He again seemed to have tested positive on testosterone after a 3.5 year ban. He also stated that his test has been tinkered with. True or not, the latest Russian doping lab scandal had without a doubt shown that the whole doping testing procedure is a dirty as some athletes are and subject to manipulation for political or financial gains, for disliking or punishing a certain athlete, or for protecting the goose that lays the golden eggs.
Two things are obvious:
1. the whole story about Ben Johnson stinks like a rotten egg.
2. if you trust the doping tests, the procedures, or the testers and their real intentions, you are or incredibly naïve and brainwashed by the fairy-tales of the anti-doping mafia, or you are plain stupid.