The Times

After sprinter Ben Johnson failed a drug test for an anabolic steroid in the 1988 Summer Olympics at Seoul, his coach, Charlie Francis of Toronto, was banned for life from practicing his profession in Canada by the country's federal government.

Four years later, Johnson is back in the Olympics after serving a two-year suspension, and speculation is rampant that Francis is his coach.

According to a story this week in a London newspaper, the Independent, evidence points in that direction, including an interview with Francis before the recent Canadian track and field trials at Montreal in which he predicted Johnson would run the 100 meters in 10.17 seconds.

Johnson ran 10.16, his best time since the Seoul Olympics, leading track experts to conclude that Francis had been more than a casual observer of the sprinter's training sessions.

Subsequently, Johnson's former doctor, Jamie Astaphan, told a Toronto reporter that Francis had been coaching Johnson.

According to the Independent, Francis is in Barcelona, perhaps with Johnson. The sprinter went with the Canadian team to a meet at Monte Carlo May 16, then disappeared until Friday morning, when he contacted Athletics Canada, the country's track and field federation, by telephone.

This is the first of a daily roundup of Olympic-related items from reporters in Barcelona from the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, Baltimore Sun and Hartford Courant, all Times-Mirror newspapers.

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