American athlete Carl Lewis wins the first of his four Olympic long jump titles at the 1984 Los Angeles Games

If you were asked to name the greatest Olympian of all time, I bet the name Carl Lewis would feature more than any other.

In the mid-1990s I would probably have chosen the same, but an admission by Lewis a few years back that he failed three drugs tests during the 1988 US Olympic trials casts a severe shadow over his achievements for me.

He is ranked fourth best in terms of medals won, and his list of achievements at the Games are, on paper, outstanding.

Lewis was the golden boy of the 1984 Los Angeles Games when he emulated Jesse Owens' legendary 1936 haul by winning the 100m, 200m, long jump and 4x100m relay titles.

He followed that by becoming the only man to retain the 100m and long jump titles four years later in Seoul, although he was beaten into second place in the 200m by Joe DeLoach in 1988 and missed out on a relay run when the American team dropped the baton in the heats.

By the time the Barcelona Games came round in 1992, Lewis was fading on the track and failed to qualify for the US team in the 100m or 200m. But he won an unprecedented third long jump title and anchored the relay team to victory in a world record 37.40 seconds that is yet to be beaten.

And he bid farewell to the Olympics at the 1996 Centennial Games with a fourth long jump gold medal to match Finland's Paavo Nurmi as the only track and field star to win nine Olympic titles.

He also equalled fellow American, discus thrower, Al Oerter's record of winning four consecutive individual titles.

There was also much debate over whether Lewis should be given a place in the 4x100m relay team in Atlanta to give him a shot at becoming the first athlete to win 10 golds, but the US Olympic Committee quashed the idea as Lewis had missed the training camp.

There are of course many stories to go with his Olympic titles, such as the feud with Ben Johnson prior to the 100m final at the 1988 Olympic Games, or his controversial decision to skip the last four rounds of the 1984 long jump competition which led to boos from the crowd.

But it is the recent revelations and Lewis' "who cares" attitude that have soured his Olympic record for me.

What are your thoughts on the man named Sportsman of the Century by the International Olympic Committee?

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


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