Toronto mayor meets with disgraced sprinter Ben Johnson

Tue Apr 8, 2014 7:02pm EDT
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who has admitted to smoking crack cocaine, on Tuesday hosted the disgraced Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson at his city hall office, with some media reports saying Johnson had joined his re-election campaign.

In a video posted online by a Toronto Sun journalist, Ford said Johnson wanted to help the mayor get more votes in the October election.

"I support Ben 100 percent," Ford told reporters with Johnson by his side. "We've all made mistakes in life. I've supported him since day one and that's the bottom line."

Ford has attracted global notoriety for a string of missteps, including public drunkenness, and buying and using illegal drugs.

Johnson, who won gold in the 100 meters sprint final at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, was stripped of the medal after testing positive for doping, then later banned for life after re-offending.

On the 25th anniversary of those games last year, Johnson returned to Seoul to warn the next generation of athletes away from performance-enhancing drugs.

A representative from Ford's office confirmed that the mayor had met with Johnson, but declined to provide details about the nature of the meeting.

(Reporting by Alastair Sharp, editing by G Crosse)

A combination photo shows Mayor Rob Ford (L) of Toronto during a Toronto Mayoral election debate in Toronto, Ontario on March 26, 2014 and Sprinter Ben Johnson (R) of Canada during his visit to Seoul on September 24, 2013 respectively. REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won/Files