Ben Johnson

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameBenjamin Sinclair "Ben"•Johnson, Jr.
Used nameBen•Johnson
Born30 December 1961 in Falmouth, Trelawny (JAM)
Measurements177 cm / 75 kg
AffiliationsYork Optimists/Toronto/Mazda Optimists Track Club
NOC Canada
Medals OG
Gold 0
Silver 0
Bronze 2
Total 2


A Jamaican native, Ben Johnson moved to Canada at the age of 14 and eventually came under the tutelage of track coach and former Olympian Charlie Francis. By the time of the 1982 Commonwealth Games, where he won silver medals for Canada in the 100 and the 4×100 relay, his star on the international athletics scene was rising rapidly. Although he failed to reach the podium at the 1983 World Championships and Pan American Games (5th), he was a member of Canada’s delegation to the 1984 Summer Olympics, where he received bronze medals in 100 and the 4×100. He finally captured gold in these events at the 1986 Commonwealth Games, where he also took home bronze in the 200 m competition.

Already a world record-holder in the indoor 60 metres, Johnson was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1987, the same year that he won gold in the 100 metre event at the World Championships with a world record of 9.83 seconds. His achievements earned him a Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s top sportsperson of the year and the title of Associated Press Athlete of the Year for 1987. At the 1988 Summer Olympics he again captured gold in the 100 m, this time besting his own world record with a run of 9.79 seconds, a mark that would not be seen again until Maurice Greene achieved it in 1999.

Johnson would be the Canadian Press’ Newsmaker of the Year for 1988, but not for laudable reasons. He was disqualified from the event three days later after testing positive for steroids. Forced to return his gold medal and stricken from the record books, he eventually admitted to having taken steroids since 1981, although he was stripped of none of his achievements that had occurred prior to 1987. He attempted a comeback after his suspension ended in 1991, even making the Canadian national squad for the 1992 Summer Olympics, but he performed poorly and within a year had received a lifetime ban for another doping incident. After years of appeals he finally retired and moved on to coaching (including a stint with former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s son Al-Saadi), releasing an autobiography in 2010.

Personal Bests: 100 – 9.95 (1986); 200 – 20.41 (1985).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1984 Summer Olympics Athletics CAN Ben Johnson
100 metres, Men (Olympic) 3 Bronze
4 × 100 metres Relay, Men (Olympic) Canada 3 Bronze
1988 Summer Olympics Athletics CAN Ben Johnson
100 metres, Men (Olympic) DQ
4 × 100 metres Relay, Men (Olympic) Canada DNS
1992 Summer Olympics Athletics CAN Ben Johnson
100 metres, Men (Olympic) 8 h1 r3/4
4 × 100 metres Relay, Men (Olympic) Canada AC h2 r2/3

Special Notes