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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 (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 211,664 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

4.8 out of 5 stars
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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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By The Sports Book Review on 11 Feb. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was a book I’d been itching to get my hands on ever since I first heard about it. A seminal sporting moment from my youth, both in terms of the original race and the downfall of Ben Johnson, delved into in great depth was something too good to resist.

Of course I thought I knew a lot about this already. I all knew about Johnson, and it had become quite well known that the majority involved in that race had had their reputations tarnished by drugs at some point. I also knew that Carl Lewis, oh holier than thou Carl Lewis, had failed a drugs test at the US Olympic trials in 1988. I also knew that drug taking, by which I mean steroid and testosterone use in particular, in Athletics was fairly widespread at that time. The Soviets and East Germans we all know about. Likewise Ben Johnson. Florence Griffith-Joyner, Flo-Jo, a decent sprinter one year turned husky voiced muscle popping sensation the next, seemed beyond parody and top of anyone’s suspicion list, despite no doping evidence ever being found.<!--more-->

But the revelation of this book is just how deep the problems went. The USA, that bastion of Cold War righteousness, seems to have been every bit as big a player in drugs in sport as their eastern adversaries. And what is more, the extent of the cover-ups makes you weep for your lost innocence. As a child I marvelled at the feats of Lewis, Johnson, Flo-Jo et al. I also recall the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, and it saddened me to read of the covered up positive drugs tests involving medallists that year too. Sadly we’ll never know who those athletes were. Should I be surprised? I suppose not, given the era, and yet it still made me sad to read it.
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3 of 3 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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