Andre De Grasse shouldn't have to answer for Ben Johnson's mistakes

Canadian sprinting icon Donovan Bailey says he was often saddled with the burden of answering for Ben Johnson's mistakes, but people should not be passing it on to Andre De Grasse.

Unfair to hold current stars accountable for past sore spots

Andre De Grasse, right, became the first Canadian to win a medal in the men's 100m at the world championships since Bruny Surin in 1999. (Wu Hong/EPA)

Andre De Grasse wasn't born in 1988 when Ben Johnson was exposed as a cheat at the Seoul Olympics, damaging the national psyche for years to come and launching an extended period of doubt about Canadian athletics – something I had to deal with throughout my career as a sprinter and still today.

My teammates and I from the 1996 Olympics era carried that burden, but people should not be passing it along to Andre and the new crop of talented sprinters in our country. When I hear that Andre was asked about Ben Johnson after his victories at the recent Pan Am Games, it upsets me.

We should be doing everything we can to celebrate his accomplishments, and to create the best conditions for him and the team to win and succeed. Don't associate him with the major mistakes of another era.

I personally am tired of being asked about Ben Johnson, and considered it detrimental to my career that I had so much doubt directed at me and my sport because of him. You travel around the world to compete, and these questions take away from your mental strength. They make you question why you are doing it if everyone assumes that you are like the guy from '88.

Ben Johnson is a man I do not know and whom I am not friends with. Yet I was asked repeatedly about his misdeeds. That took attention away from the fact that I was the fastest man in the world, and that I did it drug free –- I showed the next generation that it could be done.

Ben Johnson has been completely out of the sport for nearly three decades. In what other sport do you get the same kind of questioning dragging on for 30 years? How many current baseball players get asked whether Pete Rose's gambling on the game is affecting how they play today? How many current NHL players are asked whether the late John Kordic has affected how they are perceived in public?

It's fair game for reporters to ask our guys about current drug questions dogging the sport, about how they feel competing next to USA's Justin Gatlin after his earlier suspension. But let's move on from Ben's story. A few very significant chapters have been written since Seoul, and it looks like a new one is being drafted this summer.


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