Ben vs. Beast in Battle to be Named Fastest Mammal Alive
Above: Sprinter Ben Johnson may find the giraffe to be a formidable opponent, although giraffes are notorious for being slow coming out of the blocks
SEOUL, South Korea (SP) — Disgraced Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson may have the chance to relive his moment of infamy after a South Korean businessman announced that he was prepared to pay $2 million (U.S.) to stage a rematch of the Men's 100-metre final in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Johnson won the race in world record time, only to be stripped of both his medal and the record the following day after failing a drug test. Five of the eight finalists in that race have since been found to have tested positive for banned substances, including 1984 and 1988 Olympic champion Carl Lewis and 1992 champ Linford Christie.
All of the participants in that race are said to be seriously considering the proposed rematch, but if it doesn't take place, Johnson will simply proceed with his previously scheduled race against a giraffe and a cheetah. At stake is the very prestigious title of 'Fastest Mammal Alive'.
Johnson says that he's confident that he can beat any of his potential opponents, whether they are human beings or members of the animal kingdom. Although the giraffe can attain a top land speed that almost doubles the fastest ever achieves by a human, Johnson says he's not worried because the giraffe "always has trouble coming out of the blocks."
The cheetah has twice beaten Johnson in previous "Man vs. Beast" television specials. However, Johnson alleges that the cheetah was taking anabolic steroids on both occasions. It is notable that the cheetah was being coached by Johnson's former coach, Charlie Francis, at the time, until it was pressured to sever that controversial relationship by Puma, with whom it has a multi-million dollar shoe endorsement deal.
Lewis, who has served as an expert commentator on previous Man vs. Beast specials, is confident that Johnson can beat the giraffe, but says that the matchup with the Cheetah is too close to call. "Without question, Ben Johnson ranks up there with the greatest cheetahs of all time," said Lewis.