Jamie Astaphan, doctor who gave steroids to Ben Johnson, dies at 60

Updated: August 31, 2006, 8:45 AM ET
Associated Press

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts -- Jamie Astaphan, the doctor who gave Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson the steroids that cost him an Olympic gold medal, has died. He was 60.

Astaphan died Friday at his home in Frigate Bay after a heart attack, St. Kitts Police Commissioner Meredith Charles said Monday.

Astaphan, a native of the Caribbean island, had moved back to St. Kitts after Johnson was stripped of his medal and banned for two years for testing positive for steroids at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Johnson tested positive for testosterone in 1993 and was banned for life.

Astaphan, who was born George Mario Astaphan, initially denied giving the banned substances to Johnson, but then testified at a 1989 inquiry that he injected the sprinter with steroids between 50 and 60 times over five years leading to the Seoul Games.

Astaphan defended the use of steroids, which he prescribed to a number of athletes from his practice in Toronto.

"The axiom among track and field and other athletes was: If you don't take it you won't make it," Astaphan said at the inquiry. "So if I didn't monitor them and if I didn't give it to them they were going to get it elsewhere, and most of them had got it elsewhere. They came to me for advice and for supervision and I thought it was my responsibility to do this."

Astaphan was banned for practicing for 18 months and fined $4,472 after being found guilty of professional misconduct by the College of Physicians and Surgeons in June of 1991.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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