Canada's Ben Johnson (left) 'wins' the 100m at the 1988 Olympic Games from America's Carl Lewis (right) with Britain's Linford Christie (second right) thirdWell, I had to get round to the men's 100m at the 1988 Seoul Games at some point and as this year is the 20th anniversary, it fits in quite nicely.

I remember being in absolute awe of Ben Johnson, not just because he won the 100m, or because he beat Carl Lewis, but because he ran the perfect race.

He exploded out of the blocks, was into his running quickly, surged away from the field and blazed across the line with his arm raised in 9.79 seconds - phenomenal. Watch the race again and admire how the 100m sprint should be run.

And the look on Lewis' face with his puffed out cheeks as he trailed in second seemed to sum up what the world had just witnessed.

But then of course the dream turned into a nightmare.

Everyone suspected the Eastern Bloc countries had been up to no good for several years, but a Canadian? Surely not.

Johnson was stripped of his title for using an anabolic steroid called stanozolol, had his 1987 world record time wiped and was banned for life.

There is far more to this story, such as the Johnson v Lewis battles around the time, accusations of other athletes taking drugs and conspiracy theories involving spiked drinks.

Even Lewis, who was so outspoken against Johnson, has recently admitted to failing a drugs test at the US Olympic trials in the run-up to the 1988 Seoul Games.

If you are interested, you can hear more from Johnson himself in a BBC Radio 4 documentary, where he is interviewed by Steve Cram.

The programme, called The Dirtiest Race in History, airs on Saturday at 2000 BST.

In more recent times, Johnson has attempted to laugh off his misdemeanours, reminiscent of England footballers Chris Waddle, Stuart Pearce and Gareth Southgate and their penalty misses.

While advertising an energy drink called Cheetah Power Surge, Johnson was asked, "Ben, when you run, do you Cheetah?"

Johnson replied: "Absolutely, I Cheetah all the time."

His comments may have been made with his tongue thrust firmly into his cheek, but they do little to repair the reputation of a race that has seen three of the last six Olympic champions fail a drugs test.

Britain's Linford Christie, who was promoted to silver in Seoul and won in Barcelona four years later, failed a doping test late in his career, while reigning champion Justin Gatlin will not get the chance to defend his title after falling foul of the testers.

So was Johnson just the unlucky one to be caught out on the world's biggest stage? And what more needs to be done to keep the sport clean?

Peter Scrivener is a BBC Sport Journalist. Our FAQs should answer any questions you have.


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