It is 20 years since Ben Johnson was stripped of his 100m gold medal and thrown out of the Seoul Olympics for using performance enhancing drugs.

There were drug stories before, and there have been plenty since, but none made the impact that his did in 1988.

I spoke to him about what has since become known as the dirtiest race in history as Carl Lewis, who was promoted to gold, had failed three drugs tests at the 1988 US Olympic trials, while Britain's silver medallist Linford Christie also failed a drugs test later in his career.

(l-r) Ben Johnson, Calvin Smith, Linford Christie and Carl Lewis in the 100m at the 1988 Seoul Olympics

Johnson gave a compelling interview.

He gets quite personal about Lewis, but the two never had the greatest relationship and it's pretty strong stuff.

He alluded to the fact that if testing was better back then he might not have taken drugs.

He also said he was surprised when his positive drugs test came back for stanazolol, when he only took other drugs.

There are the same conspiracy theories that were doing the rounds back then, but they ring more true now and people are more prepared to believe the stories.

The impression was that the individual athletics federations weren't as keen to catch their high profile athletes and that he was castigated and victimised because of what happened.

There were times when I had to remind him that he did take drugs, but when I finished speaking to him, I wasn't sure how I felt.

I had some sympathy for what he was saying and understood it from that point of view, but he also did the sport irreparable damage.

If you were involved in the sport this was not a new story and I wasn't surprised when I found out he had tested positive, but it wasn't that I suspected him more or less than anyone else, more that everyone knew it was going on.

It was the first time the general public really woke up to what was going on - never before had such a high profile athlete, in such a high profile race been caught out.

I also spoke to Johnson about his slightly different view of events to those which came to light in his former coach Charlie Francis' book Speed Trap, which gives a bit more of an edge to the interview.

Steve Cram was talking to BBC Sport's Peter Scrivener. The dirtiest race in history will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Saturday, 19 July at 2000 BST.

Steve Cram won a silver medal in the 1500m at the 1984 Olympics and is now a BBC presenter. Our FAQs should answer any questions you have.


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