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Rediff News  All News  » Sports » Drug cheat Ben Johnson ad draws anger

Drug cheat Ben Johnson ad draws anger

May 16, 2017 11:03 IST

A disgraced athlete ero returns... to much dismay.

Ben Johnson

IMAGE: Disgraced Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson in a television advertisement. Photograph: Kind courtesy Sportsbet/Twitter

A controversial television advertisement for an Australian sports betting company featuring disgraced Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson has been slammed by the Australian government for glorifying drug cheats.

Ben Johnson

IMAGE: Ben Johnson celebrates winning the gold in the men's 100 metres at the Seoul Olympics, September 24, 1988. Photograph: Mike Powell/Getty Images

Johnson shamed athletics after he sprinted to victory in the men's 100 metres final with an amazing timing of 9.79 seconds to win Olympic gold medal at the 1988 Seoul Games.

Hours later, he failed a drug test, losing the Olympic title, shattering his reputation and casting a suspicious dark shadow on athletics forever.

Ben Johnson


In the 1 minute, 30 second advert for gambling firm Sportsbet, Johnson makes a few doping-related puns including the line, 'It tested positive for speed and power again and again.'

Ben Johnson


Australian Sports Minister Greg Hunt blasted the ad as 'sending a message that cheating's okay and should be rewarded and laughed at and glorified.'

'This advertising campaign belittles the achievements of clean athletes and denigrates those who work to protect clean sport across the world,' the Australian sports anti-doping authority said in a statement.

Ben Johnson


Sportsbet remains adamant in its defence of the commercial and said it will not pull the ad.

'Sportsbet does not condone the use of performance enhancing drugs ... we make no apologies for injecting some humour into advertising,' a Sportsbet spokesman told the media.

'There was just one problem with all of this public outrage though. The public didn't seem to be outraged at all. In fact, people kinda liked it,' Sportsbet added, pointing to dozens of social media posts endorsing the commercial.