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Shamed Johnson leads anti-doping cause

ESPN staff
August 30, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Ben Johnson was stripped of his Olympic gold medal three days after winning the 100m at Seoul 1988 © Getty Images
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Disgraced sprinter Ben Johnson is the face of a new anti-doping campaign.

Johnson was sensationally stripped of his Olympic gold medal and world record in the 100 metres at the 1988 Seoul Games after testing positive for steroids. After a two-year suspension, he received a lifetime ban in 1993 for a second positive doping test.

Now he is promoting an anti-doping campaign, Pure Sport, which has been launched by a sportswear company.

"Winning a gold medal and being the best in the world it cost me my reputation, my life," Johnson said.

"I'm here to try and change that. I'm trying to clear the air and clear my part of life, trying to help future generations and future athletes, athletes of my calibre, who have tested positive, been in the same boat as me, trying to help them and say, 'You're not alone.'"

Johnson said he hoped to convince future athletes not to resort to drugs.

"If I can help change the mind of athletes in generations to come, that's what we are here for," he said.

The campaign's backers said in a statement that Johnson will ask sports fans to sign a petition demanding action to "improve the waning credibility of world sport," while demanding a truth-and-reconciliation process across sport.

Johnson will take his message to the Olympic Stadium in Seoul on September 24 - the 25th anniversary of the race where his reputation was shattered.

There he will unfurl the giant petition in lane six, where he ran 9.79 to beat his great rival Carl Lewis in what has come to be known as the 'dirtiest race in history'. Of the eight competitors, only Calvin Smith and the Brazilian Robson da Silva have not subsequently been linked to drugs.

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