Smith true winner of 'dirtiest race' in history

Mon Sep 23, 2013 10:45am EDT
 
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By John Mehaffey

LONDON (Reuters) - If anti-doping regulations had been strictly enforced, Calvin Smith, a gifted American sprinter with a distinctive upright style, would have left the 1988 Seoul Games as the Olympic 100 meters champion and world-record holder.

On the day that changed the face of the Olympics and his sport forever, Smith finished fourth behind Ben Johnson, Carl Lewis and Linford Christie. Today he is the only man among the first five finishers in Seoul untouched by a drugs scandal.

"I should have been the gold medalist," Smith has said of a race that has been variously described as the dirtiest and most corrupt in history.

"Throughout the last five or 10 years of my career, I knew I was being denied the chance to show that I was the best clean runner," he told journalists. "I knew I was competing against athletes who were on drugs."

Canadian Johnson was infamously hustled out of Seoul after testing positive for the steroid stanozolol following his victory in a world-record 9.79 seconds.

Lewis, who clocked 9.92 seconds, was promoted to the gold medal ahead of Britain's Christie who then took the silver in front of Smith. Lewis's time was eventually recognized as the official world record when Johnson's mark of 9.83 seconds, set at the 1987 Rome world championships, was also erased.

Johnson's time in Rome was an astonishing tenth of a second faster than Smith's then world record of 9.93 seconds set at altitude in 1983. Smith won consecutive world 200 meters titles but never a global 100 gold.

In the popular mythology of the time Lewis, a glorious sprinter and long jumper who won four gold medals at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, was the clean-cut hero and Johnson a scowling villain.   Continued...

 
Ben Johnson of Canada (L) leads Calvin Smith of the U.S. (2nd L), Linford Christie of Britain (2nd R) and Carl Lewis of the U.S. (R) across the finish line to win the men's 100 meters sprint final at the Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, September 24, 1988. REUTERS/Pool