Ben Johnson and other Canadian track and field stars went on a crash program of banned substances to build up for the Seoul Olympics, his doctor told a federal inquiry Thursday.
Dr. Jamie Astaphan, in his second day of testimony, said Johnson, sprinters Angella Issajenko and Desai Williams and hurdler Mark McKoy needed steroids and human growth hormone, both banned, to regain their strength after a rigorous summer schedule.The doctor said the drug program began last Aug. 23 and ended Sept. 2 - only three weeks before Johnson's brief brush with glory at Seoul.
Why did they take banned substances so close to the Olympics? commission counsel Robert Armstrong asked.
"The rationale was they'd just completed a very strenuous trip (through Europe) and they needed . . . rehabilitation and rebuilding," Astaphan said.
During almost four hours of testimony in his first day on the stand, Astaphan told Justice Charles Dubin that he administered steroids to Johnson and at least 14 other Canadian track and field athletes.
He also said he was in charge of providing anabolic steroids for Johnson since 1984 and the sprinter "absolutely" understood what he was getting.
Speaking in a matter-of-fact fashion, Astaphan said Wednesday the athletes in Johnson's elite track circle spoke about steroid use as being "on the shots."
He estimated that he injected Johnson 50 or 60 times with steroids from spring 1984 to the summer of 1988 and the sprinter had a personal supply as well. He also said Johnson told him when they first met - several months before the doctor first provided aqueous testosterone - of steroid use dating to 1981.
Astaphan's appearance on the stand was among the most anticipated before the commission, which was formed after Johnson was stripped of the 100-meter world record and gold medal at Seoul last September after a positive steroid test.
Johnson's only public statement since the Olympics was that he never knowingly used illegal drugs to enhance his performance. He is expected to be among the last witnesses before the inquiry's hearings, possibly in June.
In often sensational testimony earlier this year, Johnson's coach, Charlie Francis, also outlined steroid use by the sprinter dating to 1981 up until weeks before the Seoul Olympics and said Johnson was aware of what he was doing.
Astaphan returned from Toronto to his native Caribbean island of St. Kitts in 1986 but remained in close contact with Francis and the top athletes in his Mazda Optimist Track Club. He traveled to Rome in August 1987 with Johnson, who set the world record for 100 meters, 9.83 seconds, there.
The 9.79 clocking at Seoul was thrown out and the gold medal awarded to Carl Lewis after Johnson tested positive for the steroid stanozolol.
Francis had said during his testimony that the athletes used the steroid furazabol as the Olympics neared and pushed the clearance time closer than usual to a competition date.
The doctor said he acquired furazabol from an East German athlete in 1985 but was told to call it by the false trade name Estrogol.
"They didn't want the damn Americans to get hold of it, so they did not refer to it by its generic name," Astaphan said. He added it was chemically close to stanzolol.