The Dirtiest Race in History

The Dirtiest Race in History : Ben Johnson, Carl Lewis and the 1988 Olympic 100m Final

4.03 (544 ratings by Goodreads)
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The 1988 Seoul Olympics played host to what has been described by some as the dirtiest race of all time, by others as the greatest. The final of the men's 100 metres at those Olympics is certainly the most infamous in the history of athletics, and more indelibly etched into the consciousness of the sport, the Olympics, and a global audience of millions, than any other athletics event before or since.

Ben Johnson's world-record time of 9.79 seconds - as thrilling as it was - was the beginning rather than the end of the story. Following the race, Johnson tested positive, news that generated as many - if not more - shockwaves as his fastest ever run. He was stripped of the title, Lewis was awarded the gold medal, Linford Christie the silver and Calvin Smith the bronze.

More than two decades on, the story still hadn't ended. In 1999 Lewis was named Sportsman of the Century by the IOC, and Olympian of the Century by Sports Illustrated. Yet his reputation was damaged by revelations that he too used performance-enhancing drugs, and tested positive prior to the Seoul Olympics. Christie also tested positive in Seoul but his explanation, that the banned substance had been in ginseng tea, was accepted. Smith, now a lecturer in English literature at a Florida university, was the only athlete in the top five whose reputation remains unblemished - the others all tested positive at some stage in their careers.

Containing remarkable new revelations, this book uses witness interviews - with Johnson, Lewis and Smith among others - to reconstruct the build-up to the race, the race itself, and the fallout when news of Johnson's positive test broke and he was forced into hiding. It also examines the rivalry of the two favourites going into it, and puts the race in a historical context, examining its continuing relevance on the sport today, where every new record elicits scepticism.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 336 pages
  • 129 x 198 x 22.86mm | 237g
  • Wisden
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1408158760
  • 9781408158760
  • 22,309

Review quote

"It is always a sign of a good book that you pick it up and never want to put it down. The kind which you rattle through forty pages or so without realising, due to the brilliant writing and readability of the material. Richard Moore has managed to write a book so well thought out, so painstakingly researched, that you cannot fail to appreciate just how good it is. A book which covers every aspect of the Johnson-Lewis story in such minute details, that it should be the first port of call for anyone who wants to learn anything about the subject...I could only ever dream of writing a book along the lines ofThe Dirtiest Race in History. But as a sports nut, and for someone fascinated in the Johnson-Lewis rivalry, you have to be thankful that Richard Moore has produced such a high quality book on one of the biggest sporting events of the 1980s." --That1980sSportsBlog
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About Richard Moore

Richard Moore is an award-winning sports journalist with several books to his name including In Search of Robert Millar and Heroes, Villains and Velodromes.
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Rating details

544 ratings
4.03 out of 5 stars
5 28% (152)
4 51% (275)
3 19% (102)
2 2% (12)
1 1% (3)
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