Last night, the popular 30 for 30 series took an in-depth look at the 1988 Summer Olympics and the positive drug test of sprinter Ben Johnson. The documentary, entitled 9.79, focused on the days before and after his 100M gold medal run.
Most of the story’s details are well-known. Three days after the race, Johnson’s urine tested positive for stanozolol, a popular drug for track athletes at the time. At first Johnson disputed the doping claim saying his post-race beer was tainted. An investigation was launched but no evidence of shenanigans were found.
Johnson later admitted to using steroids and was labeled a disgrace in Canada. In 1993, he was banned from the sport entirely following another positive test for excessive testosterone.
The man who profited most from Johnson’s fall from grace was his rival, Carl Lewis. The American sprinter received the gold medal and later became arguably the most successful Olympic athlete in history. Something he’s sure to remind you of every time you speak to him.
Towards the end of the documentary, the story shifts to a man named Andre Jackson. Carl Lewis’s friend from the Santa Monica Track Club who made his way over to Seoul during the games. In a bizarre series of events, Jackson was given access to the Olympic testing facility and somehow made it in with a camera. The purpose of Jackson’s presence was simple—snap a photo of Ben Johnson if he attempted to use a masking agent during the test.
Johnson believed Jackson’s presence was a bit more sinister. He claims he was there to slip something in his beer. If that sounds ludicrous, well, it is. But the fact Jackson was even allowed in the testing facility at all speaks to how devious this story is.
In 2004, the two met and according to Johnson, Jackson admitted to spiking his drink with steroids on several occasions. The producers of 9.79 did their due diligence and attempted to verify the story with Jackson but he declined an on-camera interview.
He did tell them this however.
Hmm. That’s about as close as you can get to admitting something without actually admitting it.
When told about Jackson’s quote, Carl Lewis responded with, “get over it, charge it to the game. Like I said get over it. If you can’t charge it to the game, you got played, then build a bridge.” Translation: You lost Ben Johnson, f-ck off.
What does this all mean? Who knows. If cycling is the dirtiest sport in regards to doping, track is its identical twin. Athletes will do anything and everything to achieve their goals. Spiking a drink is certainly not beyond their moral boundaries. Neither is lying, which many of them, including Johnson, have made a habit of over the years.
But you have to wonder here what Andre Jackson’s motive is and whether or not his pal, Carl Lewis, orchestrated this whole thing behind the scenes.
I want more like this!
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