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The Dirtiest Race in History: Ben Johnson, Carl Lewis and the 1988 Olympic 100m Final (Wisden Sports Writing): Ben Johnson, Carl Lewis and the Olympic 100m Final Hardcover – 7 Jun 2012


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The Dirtiest Race in History: Ben Johnson, Carl Lewis and the 1988 Olympic 100m Final (Wisden Sports Writing): Ben Johnson, Carl Lewis and the Olympic 100m Final + Run, Swim, Throw, Cheat: The science behind drugs in sport + Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Wisden (7 Jun 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408135957
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408135952
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 3.5 x 24.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 170,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'The book will bring armchair athletes to the edge of their seats - and leave them with a very nasty taste in their mouths' -- Mail on Sunday

'The book is a magnificent document about the Carl Lewis-Ben Johnson rivalry. It plunges you deep into the bitterness that marked their enmity and because Moore is the kind of journalist who will speak to 17 people when he could get the story from two, the breadth and detail is astonishing' -- The Times

'A remarkably fresh read given the amount of ink already spilled on the topic. Author Richard Moore has delivered what is certainly the most comprehensive account, and as close to definitive as possible without giving all the 'answers'' --Glasgow Herald

'Probably the finest sports book published this year' -- thewashingmachinepost.net

'A captivating and detailed account ... it reads like a thriller, which is exactly the right tone to adopt by author Richard Moore for a story dripping with skulduggery and intrigue ... compelling' --Sunday Express

'The sportswriter Richard Moore tells the story at a sprinter's pace in his rollicking and well-researched The Dirtiest Race in History' -- Simon Kuper, Financial Times

'Written with a fine sense of balance, timing and tension' --The Guardian

About the Author

Richard Moore is an award-winning sports journalist with several books to his name including In Search of Robert Millar and Heroes, Villains and Velodromes.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By SportsBioFan on 12 Jun 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ever since my January 2012 pre-order for this book, I have found myself counting down the days to finally read about the sporting moment that transfixed me as a young lad. I have read many sports biographies over the years and never anticipated one as much as this. Over 20 years on, the 1988 Olympics men's 100m final and the aftermath are as resonant as ever, so it was high time that someone wrote a decent account of both the race itself, and the ramifications of Johnson's disqualification and rescinded medal.

In terms of the research and the writing of the book - in concurrence with the first reviewer - the author cannot be faulted. Richard Moore exhaustively, yet enjoyably, leaves no stone unturned in setting the scene for the most maligned sprint meet of all time. With total accuracy, he builds the picture of athletics during the Eighties - which includes the significance of the emerging 'arms race' between drug users in athletics and anti-doping agencies - as well as the differing paths both main protagonists (Carl Lewis and Ben Johnson) followed from school to Seoul. Moore meets everyone of relevance to the 100m final - managers, coaches, colleagues, drug-testers, other competing athletes and of course, Lewis and Johnson themselves.

Those who follow athletics will realise that Moore has written about two men who are intriguing in many ways; notably within their achievements, their personal lives, and their reception to worldwide (and native) audiences. Even today, it is fascinating how Lewis and Johnson polarise opinion, and just how many Lewis detractors and Johnson fans exist - and this does not go unnoticed by Moore.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 23 Nov 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
... the author falls a bit short when reporting some important facts. Overall it is an interesting reading, filled with anecdotes and profiles of people involved in the arguably most famous rivalry in the history of track and field. The background of Carl Lewis is mainly an extrapolation of Sports Illustrated articles from the '80s and the Ben Johnson's one is sourced from his interviews and Charlie Francis' books. The book gives a fresh picture of what was track and field back then with the behind the scenes of international meetings, athletes lives and the reception of the surrounding community: journalists, fans, anti-doping experts etc. The rivalry culminating with the Seoul final is well accounted. However to keep the book more interesting the author has willingly made two big mistakes:

1 ) He clearly shows he read the Los Angles Times article "Just a dash of drugs in Lewis, DeLoach" by Alan Abrahamson. He reports everything of that article except one important piece of information: by IOC rules the amount of stimulants found in Lewis urine were not enough to cause immediate disqualification (was under 10 ppm) but was in a range requiring an investigation on the provenience of the substances. At the end of that the medical staff from USOC and IAAF considered the athlete eligible to take part to the games. Nevertheless the author asserts in the book that he had to be disqualified from the Olympic Games due to the rules. That is false.
2) He gives too much importance to the story of Andre Jackson to keep the reading even more interesting. Problem is that the "spiked beer" story of Ben Johnson is a dead issue, buried under tons of strong scientific arguments that show it was impossible.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Matt van Damn on 10 Oct 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First of all, disclaimers: I have and always adore athletics and I own and have read every one of Richard Moore's fine books. That I rate this as five stars should not come as a surprise.

This is the first of Richard Moore's books that 'snuck up on me' and I only realised it had been published when it popped up in my Amazon recommendations. From the moment it arrived I devoured it and by that evening, it was finished.

I remember this race at the time and I can remember my father telling me at breakfast that Ben Johnson had been stripped of his title. My Canadian friend was distraught, the press were shellshocked and I was wondering if I could ever watch another race again. This book bought back all of those emotions and more while painting a sympathetic picture of Ben Johnson and giving what in my opinion is the first profile of Carl Lewis that wasn't written by one of Carl Lewis's publicists.

Without going into too many details, there are plenty of avenues in this book left open for we will never truly know what went on in the months and years leading up to the race and indeed what goes on in the locker rooms and training facilities of this current generation of sports people. This book will take you back to '88 and the shock we all felt when we realised the world's fastest man was actually a fraud.

This is one that you can't afford to miss.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By john on 27 Aug 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Aside from one's views regarding Ben Johnson and Carl Lewis, this race was a turning point for the Olympics. Ben Johnson was not the first nor the last Olympian to run on PED's. Carl Lewis was running a race he should have never been allowed to run after testing positive at the US Olympic trials. As a Canadian I am personally ashamed not of the investigation into PED's that took place at the Dubin Inquiry, but am entirely ashamed of the way that Mr. Johnson was publicly lynched.
This book, while sometimes delving into questionable territory exploiting the stereotypes at the time (Ben Johnson - poor immigrant, arrogant winner and typical evolution of a steroid program) and Carl Lewis (arrogant middle class athlete blessed with natural skills), gives an account into the atmosphere at the time. The power of the US Olympic Committee, the method of testing, where a perfect stranger had access to Ben Johnson post-race (whether or not he "spiked the beer" is irrelevant - his mere presence and the lack of security was outrageous, his association to Mr. Lewis even more so) are all dealt with rather well.
All 100m races since have been put into question (correctly). All sub - 10 second times are questionable, and the fact that one man was sacrificed to save the face of the Olympics cost the very Olympics in the long run. Six were associated with PED's, one was sacrificed.
An interesting book, a fantastic read and a thoughtful look back at a race that made the world pause for 9.79 seconds. Faster races have been run, but none as exciting as Seoul 1988.
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