Steroid Rumors Made Johnson Split With Coach, Friend Says
A confidant of Ben Johnson’s said Monday that the sprinter’s temporary split last summer from his coach, Charlie Francis, was caused by rumors about Johnson’s use of anabolic steroids.
Ross Earl, founder of the Toronto track and field club that Johnson belonged to for 12 years, told the Canadian government’s inquiry into drug use by athletes that the sprinter and Francis parted ways last June after Johnson decided to travel to the Caribbean island of St. Kitts for treatment from Dr. Jamie Astaphan.
Later, Earl said, a Toronto newspaper quoted Francis as saying, “Ben would be receiving a lot of steroids in St. Kitts.”
Earl said the newspaper report upset Johnson.
“I said to Ben, ‘Do you really think Charlie would make a statement like that about you and steroids?’ He said, ‘No.’ ”
Earl arranged a meeting between Johnson and Francis, who both agreed not to make further statements about drugs to the media.
“They left arm in arm,” Earl said.
Earl, who also served as Johnson’s financial adviser, said he began to worry about the sprinter’s spending habits last summer, when Johnson bought a Ferrari for $257,000 and a Porsche for $108,000. Earl said the expenditures were approved by the Canadian Track and Field Assn., which controlled Johnson’s trust fund.
Earl said he tried unsuccessfully to dissuade Johnson from buying the Ferrari until after the Summer Olympics.
“Ben was sure he was going to win the gold medal, and the world was going to come up roses,” Earl said.