Singapore – Canada's Ben Johnson has revealed simmering anger over his Seoul 1988 drugs scandal and hit out at rival Carl Lewis, more than two decades after one of the Olympics' most infamous incidents.
Speaking during a visit to Singapore, Johnson said it was unfair he was stripped of 100 metres gold, allowing Lewis to claim the title, when it was later revealed the American had failed drugs tests.
Johnson was brought to Singapore to launch a sports academy for children, but in a sign of his enduring notoriety, four schools rejected an offer for him to speak to their students, according to the Straits Times.
“My coach gave me the stuff, which he didn't think was illegal because everyone was doing it at the time,” Johnson, 50, told the newspaper, which said he became emotional when discussing the issue.
“But they only banned me, while the Americans covered up for Carl because they knew they had no one else to take on Ben Johnson.”
Lewis tested positive for banned substances before the 1988 Games but was allowed to compete when American authorities accepted his explanation of inadvertent use.
He took the 100 metres gold medal when Johnson was sensationally disqualified following his win in 9.79 seconds, then the fastest on record, at Seoul's Olympic Stadium.
“That's not right – I lose gold and Carl takes it. Where's the fairness in that?” Johnson told the Straits Times, adding that he believed financial incentives were behind the events.
“What happened to me in Seoul was I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, it was more like a financial gain for companies so they pick on me,” he said in a separate interview with the Today newspaper.
“I regret (Seoul 1988) to a certain extent, but that was my destiny,” he added.
“I think that a lot of things happen in sport because of financial gain, because certain people didn't get paid properly and so they decide to let out certain secrets.”
Johnson also gave his backing to drug-tainted sprinter Dwain Chambers, who is eligible for the London 2012 Olympics after the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned his lifetime doping ban by British authorities.
“I'm happy that this young man can go on and finish his career in a good way,” said Johnson.
“Most of those people over there pointing fingers at this poor guy, and with everybody that also do the same thing, never get caught, going on to make a good living.
“I mean how do you run a three-minute mile, by doing what? So you have to ask yourself these questions... It's a dirty sport.”
The schools' rejection of Johnson as a speaker was confirmed by the Ministry of Education, although no reason was given, the Straits Times said. – Sapa-AFP