johnson-ben-cp-880924

Ben Johnson, left, beats Carl Lewis in the 100-metres on Sept. 24, 1988. ((Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press))

Disgraced Toronto sprinter Ben Johnson has claimed American rival Carl Lewis played a part in a conspiracy to sabotage his drug sample at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, costing him his 100-metre gold medal.

Johnson set a world record of 9.79 seconds to win the 100 metres at Seoul, but was stripped of his gold medal and record when he tested positive for the banned steroid stanozolol.

Johnson has since admitted using banned drugs, but he has continued to insist his positive test at Seoul was the result of a conspiracy to discredit him.

"I have the information on how it was done and why it was done this way and who was behind it," Johnson told Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper in a Dec. 1 interview.

Asked whether Lewis was involved, Johnson said: "I won't say too much but ... he is involved."

Johnson has claimed that he drank beer with a former U.S. football player in the drug test waiting room at Seoul, that the player was "a family friend" of Carl Lewis and that his beer had been tainted with stanozolol.

"I have been speaking to my lawyer and he wants to keep it as low [key] as possible until next June," Johnson told the paper.

"We are trying to get some information, try to get that guy [the football player] to speak."

Lewis, in his book Inside Track, admitted knowing the football player seen drinking with Johnson at Seoul, but ridiculed any suggestion the player may have tampered with Johnson's beer.

The Herald Sun was unable to contact Lewis for comment.

Lewis camp denies sabotage

Joe Douglas, Lewis's manager, rejected Johnson's claims, saying: "Carl had absolutely nothing to do with Ben testing positive."

Asked how the player obtained a pass into the doping control area, Douglas said: "If I thought Ben was going to take a masking agent, I might plant somebody in there to make sure, if he did, he would take a photo of it. You want to make sure somebody doesn't take anything from their bag, to get close enough to make sure he [Johnson] didn't take anything to cover up.

"That is as far as I can go, but there is no way ever that Carl would sabotage or make any athletes turn positive. That's not his style.

"Carl would never ever try to get somebody caught on drugs. He might be upset they weren't getting caught, but he would never sabotage anyone."

Johnson's disqualification in Seoul led to Lewis being awarded the gold medal and world record with his time of 9.92 seconds.

Johnson made similar conspiracy allegations in an interview with an Australian television network in October.

He admitted he had been a long-time user of performance-enhancing drugs, but said stanozolol was not one of the drugs he had been using.

"No. 1, that day, the drugs that they find in my system was not the drugs that I was using," he said. "No. 2, Ben Johnson was sabotaged in Seoul — somebody set me up."