With summer nearly upon us, attention turns to the great summer sporting festivals. Every four years there is the summer Olympics, which is what I want to focus on for now. My greatest, and perhaps saddest, recollection of the summer Olympics concerns a certain Ben Johnson, the man who trailblazed his way to 100m gold on the track, and 24 hours later was accused of, and subsequently found guilty of, taking steroids to enhance his performance.
That he took steroids and was found guilty sent a seismic shock through the games. Here was a high profile athlete in the highest profile event of the games caught cheating. He really opened the flood gates of what athletes were really getting up to behind the public’s back. Nowadays, doping scandals are a dime a dozen, but back then, it truly was a shocking occurrence.
Since then, Ben Johnson has attempted a comeback and, having been caught cheating again, been banned for life. Carl Lewis, the eventual gold medalist what with Johnson having been stripped of his gold, was caught up in his own steroid scandal some years later. Linford Christie, the eventual silver medalist, was also caught up in a steroid scandal towards the end of his career.
Back then, to insiders, what was most surprising was not the fact that Johnson took steroids. It was the fact that he got caught. By this I mean the steroids he was taking, a Testosterone booster I believe, was so easily detectable as to make Johnson attempt at cheating look very naive, which is a shame as I believe he would have won the race anyway.