Before Barry Bonds, there was Ben Johnson. During the 1988 Olympics, the Canadian tested positive for steroids after dominating a stacked 100-meter field and demolishing a world record in the Games' marquee event. The scandal rocked the track world and Ben Johnson's name was forever linked to performance-enhancing drugs.
Still, even knowing that he was on the juice, when you see highlights of that race it's almost impossible not to be in awe of Johnson's superhuman speed. He dominates Carl Lewis and Linford Christie and looks like a blur over the last 20 meters
In the 20 years since that race, Johnson's performance has taken on almost mythic proportions. Most people still probably think it's the fastest any human has ever run. After all, how could anyone ever go any faster than Ben Johnson did while loaded up on stanozolol? Surprisingly, three men have.
Johnson ran a 9.79 in the '88 Olympics, a "mark" which was still the fastest of all-time until Asafa Powell went a 9.74 last year. In May, Powell's Jamaican teammate Usain Bolt went ever faster, running the 100 in a blazing 9.72. At the U.S. Olympic Trials, Tyson Gay also bested the 9.79, clocking a 9.77 in the early heats. For as fast as Johnson was on that September afternoon 20 years ago, that steroid-aided performance probably would only be good for fourth-place in these Olympics.
- Ben Johnson
- Linford Christie