Ben Johnson moved to Canada at the age of 14 from Jamaica and eventually came under the tutelage of track coach and former Olympian Charlie Francis. His star rose rapidly in Canada as he began wining races with ease.
His biggest moment came at the 1988 Summer Olympics where he captured gold in the 100 m, this time besting his own world record with a run of 9.79 seconds, a mark that would not be seen again until Maurice Greene achieved it in 1999. Ben beat names like Carl Lewis and Linford Christie in that race.
Johnson would be the Canadian Press’ Newsmaker of the Year for 1988, but not for laudable reasons. He was disqualified from the event three days later after testing positive for steroids. Forced to return his gold medal and stricken from the record books, he eventually admitted to having taken steroids since 1981, although he was stripped of none of his achievements that had occurred prior to 1987.
He attempted a comeback after his suspension ended in 1991, even making the Canadian national squad for the 1992 Summer Olympics, but he performed poorly and within a year had received a lifetime ban for another doping incident. After years of appeals he finally retired and moved on to coaching (including a stint with former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s son Al-Saadi), releasing an autobiography in 2010.
Ben Johnson still remains a very big name in athletics as the shadow of doping has never really left the lucrative world of top class sprinters.