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Paris 2024: Five incredible 100m races ahead of the Games in the French capital

At 4am, the phone rang in the hotel room of Colin Hart, who was covering the Seoul Olympics for The Sun.

“There’s a major story about to break”, Hart was told. It was his first warning that one of the biggest scandals in the history of sport was unfolding.

Shortly afterwards, BBC host Des Lynam delivered the bombshell news.

“I’ve just been handed a piece of paper,” he said. “If it’s right, it’ll be the most dramatic story out of these Olympics or perhaps any others”.

Hart and his journalist room-mate sprang into action.

“We’re both in our underpants, would you believe it?” he recalls. “Dictating one of the greatest sports stories of the century.”

That story was about Ben Johnson, the Canadian sprinter whose bitter rivalry with Carl Lewis felt more like one between two heavyweight boxers.

Johnson had just powered to victory in the men’s 100m final, smashing the world record with a time of 9.79 secs. But then he tested positive for Stanozolol, a banned performance-enhancing steroid.

It wasn’t just Johnson – there’s a reason the 1988 men’s 100m final has become known as the ‘dirtiest race in history’. Six of the eight men that lined up that day were linked with performance-enhancing drugs at some point in their careers.

Listen to Ten Second Showdown: Ben Johnson

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