CBC Digital Archives

Ben Johnson's doctor, Jamie Astaphan, on trial

In 1976, Benjamin Sinclair Johnson was just a skinny immigrant kid struggling to make his high school track team. A decade later, he was a destroyer of world records, the "world's fastest man." Then it all came crashing down. His positive steroid test at the 1988 Seoul Olympics made headlines around the world, forever changing perceptions of Canadian athletes, the sport of track and field, and Ben Johnson.

media clip
The nation is stunned as Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson is stripped of his gold medal after testing positive for drugs at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. Ben Johnson isn't talking. But when his personal doctor Jamie Astaphan agrees at the last minute to an on-air interview, there are a few questions Barbara Frum wants answered. It's a Journal exclusive. "Did you ever give him [Ben] anabolic steroids, ever, ever...ever?" Frum asks.

"Would you testify under oath to that effect in any court, at any federal inquiry?" Frum is unrelenting with her questions. She asks Dr. Astaphan over and over again if he ever gave Johnson steroids. He denies giving Johnson any drugs but Dr. Astaphan seems to crack under prosecutor Frum's tough and tenacious scrutiny. It is a riveting moment in Canadian broadcasting.
• Frum received numerous awards for journalism including four Association of Canadian Television and Radio Arts (ACTRA) awards, the National Press Club of Canada Award for Outstanding Contribution to Canadian Journalism (1975), Woman of the Year from the Canadian Press (1976) and the Order of Canada (1979).
• "I hate falseness...I hate a lie — the big ones as well as the little tiny ones...and that really fuels me." — Barbara Frum.

• Dr. Astaphan was never charged with a crime in connection with the Johnson scandal, but in 1995 he was convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and steroids in Florida. After serving a two-year sentence, he ran a medical practice in his native St. Kitts. He died there of a heart attack in August 2006. He was 60.
Medium: Television
Program: The Journal
Broadcast Date: Sept. 28, 1988
Guest(s): Jamie Astaphan
Host: Barbara Frum
Duration: 24:33

Last updated: March 2, 2012

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

All Clips from this Topic

Related Content

Running Off Track: The Ben Johnson Story

In 1976, Benjamin Sinclair Johnson was just a skinny immigrant kid struggling to make his high...

Going for Dope: Canada and Drugs in Sport

From stimulants to steroids, growth hormones and even gene therapy, high-performance athletes ...

Getting the Games: Canada's Olympic Bids, ext...

It might be the most ruthless of all Olympic competitions: the race for the right to host the ...

Barbara Frum: Pioneering Broadcaster Part 2

The sudden death of Barbara Frum on March 26, 1992 shocked Canadians. The loss of one of the c...

Barbara Frum: Pioneering Broadcaster Part 1

The sudden death of Barbara Frum on March 26, 1992 shocked Canadians. The loss of one of the c...

1974: 28 million rotten eggs

Agriculture minister Eugene Whelan is in the frying pan over an egg scandal.