New Delhi: In 1988, Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson hit the headlines for being stripped off his Olympic gold medal barely three days after he emerged the worlds fastest man.
Twenty three years later, the controversial sprinter still carries the stigma of being a tainted athlete but feels even today doping is rampant in the sport. Currently in Goa along with his two wards, who would appear for trials at Salgaocar football club, Johnson feels it is not easy to find a clean man in athletics.
Several athletes are still taking drugs and going around scot free, Johnson told The Telegraph. If someone says he is absolutely innocent, then he is perhaps not saying the right thing, he added.
Asked whether he knew that eight Indian athletes had recently tested positive, Johnson said he was not aware of it. It is a sad news… they should learn from my experience…how my career was ruined. I am sure the authorities here would be doing something to lift the standard of athletics, said Johnson, whose rivalry with Carl Lewis on the track used to be the sports biggest attraction in the 80s.
Johnson, who had won two bronze medals in the 1984 Olympics, once worked as Diego Maradonas physical trainer in the 90s. He has great love for football and hockey.
As a teenager in Jamaica, I loved soccer and even continued to do so when I migrated to Canada where I played as a centre forward for Toronto Links in 1990s. Though I strengthened my basics in athletics I never lost the love for the sport. I feel that to play good football, one has to be a strong athlete also, Johnson said.
The athlete is currently accompanying two Canada based Indian boys — Guveer and Tumber — for the trials in Salgaocar. The two young strikers have been training under Johnson for the past four years to develop their stamina.
Salgaocar club secretary R.A.J. Gomes said that Johnsons students would only be taken if they satisfy coach Karim Bencherifa in the trials. We are very happy that a famous athlete like Ben Johnson has come to Goa. He met the club officials and the chairman today, Gomes informed.
Johnson feels the duo can surprise Indian defenders with their pace. Their parents hail from Punjab and the boys want to represent India. It would be great if they can impress the coach, maintained Johnson.