Posts Tagged ‘Ben Johnson’

Selective memories: Both Carl Lewis and Ben Johnson were doped to their eyeballs but only Johnson is demonised

August 9, 2021

So another Olympic Games is over. A year late and with no spectators but pretty well organised (with a few minor hiccups). It confirmed my experience of superb Japanese planning and meticulous implementation as long as the plan is in force. It is when circumstances (accidents, weather) disturb the plan that the Japanese are not at their best. But the disturbances were relatively minor.

I suppose I am getting blase and cynical. The opening and closing ceremonies did not move me as they used to do in my youth. In fact I fell asleep watching the closing ceremony. (In my defense, it was after Sunday lunch).

Most of what I watched had Swedish commentary on the Swedish TV channels or English commentary on a well-known sports channel. The commentators did not distinguish themselves. The proportion of inane comments was very high and the proportion of ignorant comments was unfortunately even higher. Clearly they were sticking to their pre-prepared notes and had not the wherewithal to think on the fly and describe real events which deviated from their scripts.

The sight of men pretending to be women and competing against women in a few instances was not pretty.

I was particularly irritated by some of the hushed and reverent comments about Carl Lewis. Maybe they should have done their homework a little better. Like all history, Olympic history is just a story. What is generally forgotten by the predominant narrative today is that during the 1970s and 1980s the US cheated just as much as the Russians or East Germans did. Or as the Chinese did in the 1990s and later.

Carl Lewis was not quite the hero he was, and still is, made out to be. He was just as much a cheater as Ben Johnson ever was. 

Whether then, or even now where healthy athletes are provided exemptions from their home sports bodies and are allowed to take asthma medicines, cheating is always acceptable as long as it is not discovered.

This is an article from 2003.

 

Lewis joins Hall of Shame

ATHLETICS/US drugs scandal: The shocking revelation that Carl Lewis won two Olympic gold medals in 1988 when he should have been serving a drugs ban means the first three men who crossed the line in that 100 metres race in Seoul have now been implicated in major doping scandals.

The world knows Canada’s Ben Johnson, the first to break the tape, failed a drugs test. What has only now emerged is that, when the gold medal went to the second-place finisher Lewis, the American should not have been there because he had tested positive for banned stimulants at the US Olympic trials two months earlier. It means that the rightful winner should have been Britain’s Linford Christie, a man who himself had a narrow escape in Seoul and has a colourful doping history.

They were not the only runners in that race with drug-tainted histories. Dennis Mitchell, who would also have benefited if Lewis had not been there, by finishing third instead of fourth, had problems with the dope-busters.

But I like sports and watching sports. And I remain in my delusional narrative that Olympic victors are largely clean.



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