Ben Johnson's coach said Thursday the sprinter used steroids to prepare for the 1987 World Championships where he set the 100-meter world record which still stands.
Charlie Francis, testifying at a Canadian hearing into drugs and sports, said Johnson began a sophisticated program - that included injections of banned anabolic steroids - aimed at the August 1987 championships in Rome.The preparations for Rome began in the fall of 1986 and continued until before the championships where Johnson was clocked in 9.83 seconds.
Francis also testified that, in addition to putting Johnson and some other Canadian athletes on steroids, he also injected them with the banned substance.
Francis said he first gave Johnson a growth hormone and vitamin B-12 during the 1986 Goodwill Games in
Moscow. They were not on the International Olympic Committee's banned substances.
"It's not so easy to try it the first time, but obviously there was no one else available," Francis said, noting that he and Johnson had traveled alone to Moscow.
Francis said he then took over steroid injections for his athletes after Dr. Jamie Astaphan, Johnson's personal physician, moved back to the Caribbean island of St. Kitts from Toronto in the fall of 1986.
"He left behind a couple of bottles," Francis, who has been Johnson's coach since 1977, said.
Francis was testifying for the third day at the inquiry which was called after Johnson was stripped of his 100-meter Olympic gold medal last September.
The testimony delivered in detailed, matter-of-fact fashion, contradicts denials from Johnson and Astaphan of participation in steroid programs.
Francis said Wednesday that Johnson first decided in 1981 to take anabolic steroids because of the need to keep up with the competition.
The coach said that he mixed the injections of vitamin B-12, growth hormone and the steroid furazabol himself when he took over their administration.
He said that in the fall of 1986 Johnson, Tony Sharpe and Cheryl Thibedeau received injections at his apartment while star sprinter Angella Taylor Issajenko received her own injections at her home.
He said Johnson also had a bottle of capsules of the steroid stanozolol, for which he tested positive in Seoul, provided by Astaphan.
"He had them from Dr. Astaphan," Francis said. "I believe he had the same bottle for several years since he used very few of them."
Francis on Wednesday said his star athletes used banned steroids for years and were well aware of the need to clear their systems before getting caught by a drug test.
Francis said Johnson, who maintains that he never knowingly used drugs to enhance his performance, first decided to take steroids in 1981 and by 1985 was describing a new one's effects in "not repeatable" slang.
Johnson and Astaphan, named by Francis as the administrator of his athletes' steroid programs since 1984, are scheduled to be among some 30 witnesses to testify in later weeks in the commission's extended review of track and field. Astaphan has denied providing banned substances to the athletes.
Francis said the rule for his athletes was to stop taking banned substances 28 days before competition.
Ontario Associate Justice Charles Dubin, leading the Commission of Inquiry into the Use of Drugs and Banned Practices, interrupted to say that the rule was not to use steroids at all.
"It depends on the rules of international sport, on the rule of fair play, I guess," Francis replied. He insisted repeatedly that keeping up with the competition made steroid use a virtual necessity at the top level of international sports.
The track coach cautioned against believing any claims from top-level athletes that they are clean and that their records are the result only of hard work.
"It just isn't true, not at the highest level," Francis said.
Francis said the rate at which records fell would be unimaginable without steroids. He specifically mentioned the women's 100 meters.
"You would have to wait another 50 years to get this improvement," he said, noting the rise to Griffith Joyner's world-record 10.49 last year.
Francis never mentioned Griffith Joyner by name and stopped just short of tracing the improvement to steroid use, saying he doesn't believe "you can discuss the likelihood of who is clean and who is not."
However, he said, "This girl would beat the great Jesse Owens by 4 feet."
Griffith Joyner retired from running last Saturday, saying she wanted to act and write. She has said several times that she would submit to drug tests any time, even daily, to prove she was steroid-free.
The coach said he also tried his own program of steroids injected by Astaphan for about five weeks in the 1985-86 season to get a perspective on their effects.
Francis, now 40 and a former Olympic athlete, said his weightlifting ability "came back to what I was lifting some years before quite rapidly" and he did not notice any negative side effects.