The International Olympic Committee’s medical team got more exercise than most of the competitors during the 24th Games in Seoul.
Rigorous drugs testing of all medal winners – plus another contender picked at random in each event – resulted in 10 competitors being disqualified. Although this was two fewer than in the 1984 Los Angeles Games, the Seoul drug-takers attracted more publicity because they included big fish.
Canada’s Ben Johnson was undoubtedly the biggest: he won the 100m final on 24 September in a breathtaking 9.79 seconds, but traces of the anabolic steroid, stanozolol, found in his urine after the race meant disqualification, and his gold medal passed to Carl Lewis.
Britain’s Linford Christie had a narrow escape when ginseng tea was blamed for his positive result in a test after the 200m on 28 September, but his teammate Kerrith Brown was less fortunate – he was stripped of his bronze medal for judo for taking illegal diuretics.
However, weightlifting came top of the drugs league. Five competitors were disqualified, and the Hungarian and Bulgarian teams withdrew as a result.
Against this background, there were some stunning performances with Florence Griffith Joyner of the US winning three golds and a silver on the track and smashing the 200m world record twice in one day.
Among the British gold medallists were swimmer Adrian Moorhouse, who won the 100m breaststroke final, and rowers Andrew Holmes and Steven Redgrave in the coxless pairs.