Jamie Astaphan, 60; Doctor’s Steroids Cost Olympic Sprinter Ben Johnson a Gold Medal

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Jamie Astaphan, 60, the doctor who gave Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson the steroids that cost him an Olympic gold medal, died Friday at his home in Frigate Bay, St. Kitts and Nevis, after a heart attack.

Astaphan, a native of the Caribbean island, moved back to St. Kitts from Toronto in 1986. He initially denied giving the banned substance to Johnson, but then testified at a 1989 inquiry that he had injected the sprinter with steroids 50 to 60 times over five years leading to the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.

Johnson, who was born in Jamaica but moved to Toronto as a teenager, was stripped of his medal and banned for two years for testing positive for steroids at the Seoul Games. He tested positive for testosterone in 1993 and was banned for life.

Astaphan defended the use of steroids, which he prescribed to a number of athletes from his practice in Toronto.


“If I didn’t monitor them and if I didn’t give it to them, they were going to get it elsewhere, and most of them had got it elsewhere,” Astaphan said at the inquiry. “They came to me for advice and for supervision, and I thought it was my responsibility to do this.”

Astaphan was banned from practicing medicine for 18 months and fined $4,472 after being found guilty of professional misconduct by the College of Physicians and Surgeons in June 1991.

Born George Mario Astaphan, he studied medicine at the University of Toronto.