Drug Testing Strips Johnson of Gold Medal

Associated Press

Ben Johnson today was stripped of the gold medal in his record-setting 100-meter dash after testing positive for steroids, and the medal was awarded to American Carl Lewis.

The gold medal revived Lewis’ apparently dashed hopes for an unprecedented second sweep of four gold medals in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, the long jump and the 400-meter relay. He won the long jump Monday.

“This is a blow for the Olympic Games and the Olympic movement,” IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch said in a statement. “However, it shows that the IOC was right in the firm stand it has adopted to keep the Games clean (of drugs).”

Johnson’s associates said they could not believe he had used steroids.


‘Mistake or Sabotage’

“The only thing we can say at this stage is that it is a tragedy, a mistake or a sabotage,” said Johnson’s manager, Larry Heidebrecht. “Up to five days before the race, Ben was in perfect condition. Something has happened in those days.

“We do not know what happened and how it happened, but apparently somebody has sabotaged Ben, and we will find out who it was and how it was done.”

The International Olympic Committee’s executive board unanimously approved its medical commission’s recommendation that the medal be withdrawn.


Michelle Verdier, IOC spokeswoman, said traces of stanozolol, a water-based steroid, were found in a urine sample taken after Saturday’s race, in which Johnson set a world record of 9.79 seconds. Lewis finished second in 9.92 seconds.

Verdier noted the Canadian contention of sabotage--that the substance might have been administered to Johnson after the race--and said: “The steroid profile is not consistent with such a claim.”

Sample Took More Than Hour

A Canadian team staff member, Diane Clement, said at the time that Johnson had to wait more than an hour--and put down several bottles of beer--before he could produce a sample for the post-race drug test.

Johnson, who had been recovering from a hamstring injury, was en route home to Toronto and unavailable for comment.

Lewis said in a statement: “If there is an incident, I am deeply sorry.” He declined to make any further comment.

Johnson was the seventh athlete and third gold medalist to test positive for drugs at the Seoul Games.

Bulgarian gold-medal weightlifters Angel Guenchev, who broke three world records in the 148 1/2-pound class, and Mitko Grablev were suspended for use of furosemide, a diuretic intended for quick weight loss. In each case, the silver medalist was declared the winner.