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Ben Johnson Stripped of Olympic Gold Medal

Ben Johnson speeds ahead of the pack to win the 1988 Olympic 100 meter final in a world record 9.79 seconds.

Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images

The 1988 100-meter dash in Seoul was a thrilling race packed with track stars like Carl Lewis, Linford Christie and Ben Johnson. What made the race even more exciting was watching Johnson break the world record with a final time of 9.79 seconds [source: Montague]. Twenty-four hours later, Johnson failed a drug test and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) stripped him of the medal he'd just won [source: Montague].

Johnson returned to Canada in disgrace, and later the same year that country launched the Dubin Commission to investigate him and his coach, Charlie Francis. During the investigation, Francis testified that he started giving drugs to the 11 athletes that trained with him because everyone else in the sport was doing it [source: Janofsky].

Little changed in track and field as a result of the Dubin Inquiry. It took another 12 years for the IOC to form the World Anti Doping Agency, and critics say part of the reason for the delay was that revealing the extent of doping was bad PR for the Olympics [source: Montague].

After failing a second drug test in 1993, Johnson was banned from the sport for life. The scandal is one that haunts Olympic track and field to this day. People often suspect drug-taking when records are broken [source: Reuters]. In fact, six of the eight 1988 100 meter finalists either tested positive for using banned drugs in that race, or were implicated in drug use at another point in their careers. They included Carl Lewis, Linford Christie and Desai Williams.

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