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Johnson's Act Was Not Cowardly, Just Ill-Advised

October 08, 1988

Ben Johnson is not a coward ("Ben Johnson Is a Coward, DeFrantz Says," Sept. 28). It takes courage to train and compete at the Olympic level. I am an Olympian and I know anabolic steroids aren't magical pills that allow the athlete to kick back and grow muscles.

These drugs don't eliminate the need for tough training. When I was competing internationally, I talked with athletes who took steroids. Those were the days when testing was limited or nonexistent and athletes didn't get caught.

The thing I remember most about those conversations is that athletes found anabolic steroids allowed them to train harder because they needed less recovery time between workouts. Johnson trained hard for his ill-fated 100-meter race.

I chose not to take steroids. The rumors that taking the drug would "shrivel my ovaries and make my liver cancerous" made me decide to stay clean. On the other hand, no one was offering me $10 million if I won an Olympic gold medal.

Johnson faced a much tougher choice. Someone told him anabolic steroids would make him even faster and would ensure his Olympic gold. Those close to him assured him no one gets caught. He would be rich. He could buy his mom a home, drive fast cars, meet beautiful women and fly to Jamaica to visit his father as often as he liked.

He is the tragic victim of ignorant advisers and an immigrant's desire for fame and fortune.

PATTY LOVEROCK

Los Angeles

Editor's note: Loverock was a member of the 1976 Canadian Olympic track and field team.

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