For our customers: Reuters marks 25th anniversary of historic Olympic race

23 Sep 2013
Johnson of Canada leads Smith, Christie and Lewis across the finish line to win the men's 100 meters sprint final at the Olympics in Seoul

The 100 metres final in Seoul on Sept. 24, 1988 was probably the most eagerly-anticipated race in Olympic history and when Ben Johnson exploded out of the blocks to beat Carl Lewis and win it in a then-scarcely believable world record 9.79 seconds the world was left agog. Three days later the stunning announcement of the Canadian’s failed drugs test sent shock waves through the sport that still resonate to this day.

On Monday Sept. 23 and Tuesday Sept. 24, Reuters will be publishing an in-depth multimedia package to mark the 25th anniversary of that seminal race and its fallout:

Seoul-based Pete Rutherford will interview Johnson, along with Reuters TV, after he appears on the same lane on the same track where he ran that Olympic final, to deliver an anti-doping message.

Mike Collett, who reported on the race, and Gary Hershorn, who photographed it and followed Johnson closely throughout the build-up, will provide fascinating first-person insights into a period that both men recall with the emotion and clarity associated with an event both consider to be the highlights of their long and distinguished journalist careers.

Athletics specialist John Mehaffey will look at the impact the “dirtiest race in history” had and continues to have on a sport still riddled with doping and suspicion.

Toronto-based Steve Keating analyses the effect of Johnson’s ban – and subsequent comebacks and further bans – had on a country with limited pedigree in athletics but which will forever be association with the sport’s most infamous cheat.

Sports business specialist Keith Weir will look at how athletics has suffered since Seoul, as its TV and marketing appeal has lost ground in the face of widespread disillusion among fans.

We will carry factboxes on doping in the 100 metres and on the precise effects of stanozolol, the steroid Johnson used to help develop himself into a super-human sprinter.

We will also publish eye-catching graphics to illustrate the scale of Johnson’s victory in 1988 and to chart the depressing trail of doping that has dogged the 100 metres since. The whole package will be augmented by TV and pictures, with a collection of images tracking Johnson from his eye-bulging steroid-fueled days as a world beater through to his current position as an anti-doping activist.

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