1988 Olympics Scandal: Ben Johnson's DQ Could Have Happened to Anyone

Ian Hanford@Ian_HanfordFeatured ColumnistOctober 10, 2012

Courtesy of realclearsports.com
Courtesy of realclearsports.com

If you watched 9.79* Tuesday night, you realize that Ben Johnson could have been anyone at the 1988 1988 Seoul Olympics. Johnson got caught doping, and was disqualified, but any number of world-class athletes could have been in the same position.

ESPN's 30 for 30 showed how prevalent this issue was back then. For all we know, it's no different today. Johnson got caught making the wrong choice, while others skated by without any penalty.

Various people spoke in the documentary, alluding to a few common themes. A ton of athletes were "juicing," and the drugs to do so were very easy to get a hold of.

This problem is much bigger than Johnson, and it doesn't stop with track athletes. Anyone who hasn't lived under a rock for the last 10 years is aware of baseball's problems, and you can throw cycling in there as well.

Steroids are all over, and a hyper-competitive sports atmosphere provides a breeding ground for their use.

Johnson slipped up, or he was set up if you watched the program. No matter what you believe, it's obvious that a mistake was made somewhere.

Countless other athletes put their bodies through the same treatment without ever facing a problem, but Johnson's miscue happened at the worst possible time.

If you test positive, and you're a relative unknown like Johnson was before this, in a minor qualifying tournament, that's one thing. But the Olympics? That's the one and only time sprinters have the limelight. Slipping up there is always going to create shockwaves.

Johnson should have avoided doing it in the first place, but it's hard to blame him. He, and everyone else, knew full well what most runners were into. Without drugs, anyone not named Carl Lewis (supposedly clean) didn't stand a chance.

Johnson went for it, like many others did. He got caught, disgraced and stripped of his reputation at the same time.

Instead of pointing the finger directly at him, realize that any other runner's name could have been in his place.