Ben Johnson’s coach testified today that the chairman of the Canadian Track and Field Assn. agreed to try to warn him if his agency instituted random drug testing before the Seoul Olympics.
The official, Jean-Guy Ouellette, who was outside the hearing room, promptly denied the allegation by Charlie Francis.
The coach, ending 18 hours of direct testimony at a Canadian inquiry into drugs and sports, said he argued against random testing in discussions with Ouellette.
Ouellette was “determined random testing not occur before the Olympic Games,” Francis said. “He also went further and said if in fact random testing was put in, he would attempt to become involved in the process so that we would find out and have some advance warning.”
The coach said on Monday that Johnson beat drug tests for eight years and that the one time he didn’t, he may have been done in by a saboteur.
He said Johnson was not prescribed the drug that cost him an Olympic gold medal last fall in Seoul.
Francis, 40, told a silent hearing room that his prized pupil took steroids a month before the Games. But he said it would have made no sense to take the stanozolol that turned up in Johnson’s urine sample after he won the 100-meter race. The drug stiffened Johnson’s muscles when it was last prescribed in early 1987, he said.
“It would not be something anyone would take deliberately,” said Francis. “I began to suspect it was administered to him in some way that he didn’t know about.”
The roomful of lawyers, reporters and sports officials sat transfixed as Francis described how Johnson told Canadian officials in Seoul that a dark-skinned American--6 feet tall and 160 pounds--sat next to him while he drank liquids at the testing center.
“The drink was on the floor and this guy was beside the drink,” said Francis, adding many unauthorized people frequented the facility.
The coach, whose expression barely changed throughout his first 17 hours of sworn testimony, said a Canadian police officer and Johnson’s physiotherapist corroborated the story and saw the unidentified man talk to rival U.S. sprinter Carl Lewis.
Johnson, 27, has denied he knowingly took “illegal drugs.”
Olympic officials at Seoul rejected the sabotage defense, citing signs of long-term steroid use.