Ben Johnson, a Canadian sprinter who tested positive for a banned substance at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, will return to South Korea later this month to promote an anti-doping campaign, officials said.
Skins, an Australian sports apparels company, is running an international anti-doping campaign called, “Choose the Right Track.” On the campaign’s website, Skins announced last week that Johnson began his world tour to promote the campaign in Britain, and will also stop in Canada, the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea.
The ex-sprinter’s tour will wrap up at Jamsil Olympic Stadium on Sept. 24, the 25th anniversary of Johnson‘s infamous 100-meter final.
Johnson beat out reigning Olympic champion Carl Lewis with what would have been a world record time of 9.79 seconds. He failed a drug test the following day, however, and was stripped of his medal and record.
In an open letter posted on the campaign’s website, Johnson said he is now “on a mission for change.”
“I put chemicals inside my body without fully appreciating what it might do. It ruined my career. It ruined my life,” Johnson said.
“Fast forward 25 years and athletes are still testing positive week after week ― still making the same mistakes I made. Athletes’ perceptions need to change. The system needs to change.”
Johnson said athletes who dope should no doubt be punished, but athletes as a whole need better education and support. He added that his world tour will raise awareness of the state of drug use in sports.
An official with the Korea Association of Athletics Federations said the national track and field governing body hasn’t received any formal notification regarding Johnson’s visit. The official said he has only heard “rumors” about the ex-sprinter’s trip. (Yonhap News)