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Ben Johnson confides in Finnish actor about doping downfall

During the shooting of the feature film “A Patriotic Man”, actor Janne Reinikainen got a rare insight into the doping scandal that toppled Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson – straight from the horse’s mouth.

Janne Reinikainen
Actor Janne Reinikainen makes astounding claims about Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson. Image: Yle

The legendary sprinter attended a dinner along with Reinikainen during the shooting of the Finnish feature about Finnish skiers tampering with blood for better results. In the course of the dinner, Johnson apparently told Reinikainen that changing sponsors was the factor that led to him being disqualified for using doping.

“We were having dinner in Slovenia during the shoot, and Ben Johnson said he’d made one mistake in his career. This was not being caught for doping, but changing sponsors before the Seoul Olympics,” Reinikainen said on a Yle weekend sports television programme.

Influential sponsors?

According to Reinikainen, Johnson felt that if he had stayed with his previous sponsor Adidas instead of moving to Diadora, his doping use would not have been publicised. This is because he would have been working for a bigger sponsor. Influential sponsors such as Adidas or Nike, Reinikainen continued, protect their athletes to such a degree that ending up disqualified for doping would not have been possible.

Ben Johnson lost his Olympic gold medal for the men’s 100 metres sprint after being disqualified for doping in the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

Johnson also plays a part in "A Patriotic Man", directed by Arto Halonen.

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