The title of this book (The Dirtiest Race in History, By Richard Moore) refers to the 1988 Olympic Games 100 m sprint final (see a video of the race). This was perhaps the most thrilling sprint in Olympic history, but within 48 hours the gold medalist Ben Johnson had tested positive for anabolic steroids and the scandal and stories had begun. However, the full story did not begin with this race, but many years earlier.
The book follows the development of the two main combatants, Carl Lewis and Ben Johnson, from when they started sprinting; building a deep rivalry between them that fascinated the athletics world, culminating in the infamous race referred to in the title. The author Richard Moore was able to interview Johnson who gave some interesting insights into that period, but unfortunately Lewis was not available.
In the concluding pages of this book, we are given details of each of the competitors in this infamous race. It may be no surprise that ultimately most of them were tainted by drugs at some point in their career, possibly this is the message the book is trying to make. This may be the story about Ben and Carl, but it also defines the period in athletics history where drug use was widespread, and the fledgling anti-doping program had only started the game of catch-up.
- The Dirtiest Race in History by Richard Moore.
- Inside Track: My Professional Life in Amateur Track and Field, by Carl Lewis and Jeffrey Marx.
- Speed Trap: The Inside Story of Ben Johnson and the Biggest Scandal in Olympic History, by Charlie Francis and Jeff Coplan.
Tags: 100m·1988·1988 Olympics·Ben Johnson·Carl Lewis·doping·drugs·events·Olympic Games
Athletics fans were not able to watch their star Usain Bolt in the final of the World Athletics Championships 100m sprint. The Olympic gold medalist and world record holder was disqualified after false starting. In new rules which came into play in January 1 2010, a false start means automatic disqualification. Previous to that, after one false start a warning was given to all runners, then the next person to break was out. And before that, the long standing rule was that each runner was allowed to break early once. The false start rules needed to be changed as the athletes began to purposely break to put off other runners, and watching a 100m sprint final became a joke with ongoing restarts.
There are calls for the rules to be changed – but to what? Return to what did not work before? I have been to many track meets and had to sit around watching the sprinters (I was one myself) ply their gamesmanship. Bolt actually backed the rule introduction last year, so he can’t complain. Athletics meets will be better to watch under the current rules, and maybe we just have to put up with occasionally missing seeing a champion race. Rules don’t suddenly need revision just because a high-profile athlete has fallen foul. The rule makers need to be consistent, and the athletes need to play by the rules and accept them.
Tags: 100m·rules·sprinting·Usain Bolt