TV commercial featuring a disgraced ex-sprinter Ben Johnson was criticized by Australian anti-doping authority because it “made light of the use of drugs.”
Ben Johnson got stripped of his 100m Olympic gold from Seoul of 1988 after he was tested positive for a banned steroid.
In the commercial, he makes a reference towards that incident when talking about a betting firm’s mobile phone app “testing positive for speed and power again and again.”
The betting company refused to back down and will not pull the ad.
Greg Hunt, Australia’s federal sports minister, commented on the commercial being “utterly inappropriate”, and an independent senator Nick Xenophon even wants to involve the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
“It is just wrong on so many levels – glorifying a drugs cheat, tying it in with gambling and promoting it to kids in a light-hearted way,” said Xenophon.
An offical statement from Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority also expressed that the advert “does not condone the message sent in this advertisement. This commercial makes light of the use of drugs in sport and sends a wrong message.”
The betting firm, Sportsbet, disagreed as they did not “condone the use of performance-enhancing drugs” but still will make “no apologies for injecting some humour into advertising”.