Charlie Francis, Track Coach, Steroid Expert, Passes Away
by Anthony Roberts
Charlie Francis, who was diagnosed with lymphoma five years ago, 61, died at Sunnybrook Hospital on Wednesday afternoon. Francis was the Canadian 100-meter champion in 1970, ’71 and ’73. His personal best of 10.1 seconds was established at the Pan American Games trials in 1971.
Francis became first became a world-wide household name when an athlete he coached, Ben Johnson, ran a 9.79 100 meter sprint, but subsequently was stipped of his gold medal when he tested positive for steroids at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. The events surrounding the controversial coach and sprinter were chronicled by Francis in his book, Speed Trap.
Francis had honestly and frankly argued that he was simply leveling the playing field against other top sprinters. He will be missed by the sprinting community as well as the steroid world.