A television advert featuring disgraced ex-sprinter Ben Johnson has been criticised by Australia’s anti-doping authority for “making light of the use of performance-enhancing drugs”.
Canadian Johnson was stripped of 100m Olympic gold from Seoul 1988 after testing positive for a banned steroid.
In the advert, he says a betting firm’s mobile phone app “tested positive for speed and power again and again”.
The company has defended the advert and says it will not be pulled.
There are several doping puns used in the advert, including claims the app is “a hit with performance-enhancement experts all over the world”.
Australia’s federal sports minister Greg Hunt called the use of Johnson “utterly inappropriate”, while independent senator Nick Xenophon wants the country’s media watchdog, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, to take action.
“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.
A statement from Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority said the advert “does not condone the message sent in this advertisement”.
It added: “This advert makes light of the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sport and sends the completely wrong message that the use of drugs in sport is normal.
“This advertising campaign belittles the achievements of clean athletes and denigrates those who work to protect clean sport across the world.”
A spokesperson from the betting firm, Sportsbet, told News Ltd media it did not “condone the use of performance enhancing drugs” but made “no apologies for injecting some humour into advertising”.