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A documentary airing tomorrow night on CTV confirms the drug-soaked landscape in track and field that led to Ben Johnson's positive drug test at the 1988 Olympics and tells how Nike founded a club that provided seminars about how steroids worked, how they were most effective and how to avoid tests.

The documentary, Ben Johnson: Drugs and the Quest for Gold, airs at 7 p.m. Eastern, detailing how Nike established and financed a running academy called Athletics West that provided information on steroids. At the academy, which was based in Eugene, Ore., U.S. competitors learned what it took to level the playing field with their Eastern Bloc counterparts in the late 1970s to 1989.

The show spins off the still-compelling spectacle of Johnson hurtling down the track in the Olympic 100 metres in 9.79 seconds and rehashes Canada's national angst when he tested positive for the horse medicine Winstrol V or stanozolol.

The subject is as alive today as it was when Johnson was caught.

On the eve of the Canadian and the U.S. Olympic track trials this year, no fewer than six American athletes, including Tim Montgomery, the world's fastest man, are fighting drug-related suspensions.

Drugs remain everywhere.

"There is a level playing field," coach Charlie Francis says in the documentary. "It's just not the one you thought it was."

In the program, an excellent job is done describing the prevalence of drugs in the Olympic world of the 1970s and the 1980s, including conversations with East German women who won races, then sang their national anthem in baritone. Because of state-sponsored sport-medicine strategies, former shot putter Heidi Kreiger's body became so confused hormonally that Heidi is now the manly Andreas Kreiger.

In the East, victory was propaganda. But in the West, winning translated into shoe sales. Officially, the Nike-funded Athletics West never endorsed drug use, but provided information and lectures on the type of drugs and how they could be used. Former U.S Olympic track coach Bob Sevene walked away from the club after he mistakenly received mail from a lab containing liver tests for athletes that checked levels of steroids. The tests were paid for by Athletics West, the documentary says.

"We had some people who wanted tests for liver enzymes," club administrator Dick Brown said. "We didn't ask why, we just wanted to help them with their health and performance. We didn't ask, they didn't tell. That was their mature decision to handle it the way they wanted. . . . We provided them with the most realistic, honest information we had."

Today's shoe wars are about technology, not the politics of the Cold War, said Vada Manager, the director of Nike's global issues management department. The company doesn't dispute reports that it leaned on Montgomery and Marion Jones to break off a training program with Francis because of the negative fallout from his former steroid associations.

"Nike's never had an official policy that endorsed doping," Manager said in an interview.

"But you can't account for an individual athlete's or coach's decision. The official position is that we believe in strict training regimens and natural performance, not the use of drugs.

"We see our contribution to sport as creating innovative products, showing leadership in the marketplace."

Nike's latest product, the hooded Swift Skin high-tech garment, was shown to Canada's Olympic track and field team yesterday in Victoria. It has been seen in previous incarnations on American speed skaters and 2000 Olympic torch bearer Cathy Freeman. The suit is designed to cut resistance, with materials that reduce the friction created by pumping thighs and swinging arms.

But athletes will need to see some facts and figures before they believe technology can do what pills did. Measurements done on speed skaters in Salt Lake showed they improved their personal-best performance by 1 per cent. Coincidentally, when Francis was on the stand at the federal Dubin Inquiry into drugs in sport, his analysis was the same.

"Drugs are worth a metre in the 100 metres," he said. "A sprinter can choose to line up his blocks with everyone else, or [staying drug-free]a metre behind."