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A NEW START
Richard O'Brien
January 21, 1991
Ben Johnson (Lane 3), racing for the first time since his ban was lifted, drew an emotional crowd in Canada
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January 21, 1991

A New Start

Ben Johnson (Lane 3), racing for the first time since his ban was lifted, drew an emotional crowd in Canada

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"You saw some serious, serious acceleration there once block clearance occurred," said Seagrave after the race, sounding like a proud NASA technician.

Indeed, Johnson's charge was enough to take him past the rest of the field, but not enough to catch Council, whose time of 5.75 edged Johnson by .02 of a second. Afterward, Johnson said he had mistaken a line across the track at 50 yards for the finish. ("I didn't realize there were two lines until I got up in the stands," said an upset Seagrave, who videotaped the race from high in the arena. "It was my fault.")

A relaxed Johnson told the press after the race that he was pleased with his general fitness level. "I'm just not race-fit yet," he said, adding that he needed seven or eight more races to be sharp. It will be a lucrative process. Johnson will reportedly pocket $30,000 for running in the Sunkist meet in Los Angeles on Jan. 18, and $100,000 to compete in Osaka, Japan, on Feb. 11. Somewhere along the line will most likely come a much anticipated rematch with Lewis. ( Lewis, who underwent arthroscopic surgery in October and is skipping the indoor season, has his own positive test to deal with now. He was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol after allegedly failing an Intoxilyzer test administered, police said, after he ran his car over a curb last Friday in Houston.)

"It's good to get the feeling back," said Johnson before heading off to drug testing. He spent more than an hour in the doping room before finally producing a sample (the test results were unavailable at week's end). From there he returned to the hotel, but he was not yet ready to sleep. An hour later Johnson was still in the lobby, chatting with friends and other athletes—and looking glad to be back.

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