SEATTLE, JULY 24 -- As of today, the 100-meter landscape has changed. Where two men once stood, three have now gathered.

Sometime in the future, perhaps soon, there probably will be a race between Carl Lewis and Ben Johnson, the bitter rivals of the infamous 100-meter race at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

But in a lane next to them -- perhaps even standing between them -- may be Leroy Burrell of the United States, the winner of the Goodwill Games gold medal over Lewis Monday night at the University of Washington's Husky Stadium.

While Johnson has been sitting out his two-year suspension for steroid use and Lewis has been writing a book and lobbying against steroids in Congress, Burrell quietly has become the world's best 100-meter runner.

He has run the fastest 100 so far this year (9.96 seconds) and ran the fastest last year (9.94, which is just two hundredths of a second off Lewis's world record). His winning Goodwill time of 10.05 seconds, three hundredths of a second faster than Lewis, was not breathtaking, but it marked the first time in six races he has defeated his friend and mentor.

Burrell, 23, was asked if beating Lewis, 29, meant he had "graduated."

"I wouldn't say this was graduation day," Burrell said. "You'd say that. I'd say I graduated when I ran 9.94."

But if the significance wasn't in simply winning, it might have been in surviving the atmosphere surrounding the race.

"I'm very excited," Burrell said. "I'm excited that I was able to go against Carl and, with all the pressure, run my own race."

Running races is the next chapter in the Carl, Ben and Leroy story. Johnson is eligible to return after Sept. 24, although it's unclear if he will be eligible to run for Canada's national team.

Representatives of Lewis and Johnson have discussed a race between the two either this fall or early next year, but Joe Douglas, Lewis's manager, has put the chances for such a race at about 25 percent.

Douglas and Lewis want any such race to be part of a structured meet, in which all lanes in the 100 meters would be filled. They don't want a sideshow. That's why the Lewis camp has turned down offers to race in a Las Vegas casino parking lot and on the Atlantic City boardwalk.

Lewis wants Johnson to be tested for drugs too. Johnson has been working out and has passed every drug test, according to his attorney, Ed Futerman. Word is he has run a 10.05 100 in practice.

"Okay, I was timed in 9.39," Lewis shot back. "Leroy was timed in 9.29. Talk doesn't mean anything."

There certainly is no reason to believe Lewis, the winner of six Olympic gold medals, is washed up. He finished not second, but third, in the 1986 Goodwill Games in 10.06 seconds, behind Johnson (9.95) and Chidi Imoh of Nigeria (10.04). He has trained sporadically lately and hasn't run many races this summer.

"I knew I was coming to the Goodwill Games some time ago," he said. "I was prepared as well as I could be under the circumstances. I could talk about lack of races or a hectic schedule, but it all comes in the package. I was ready to run. You don't bring excuses to the line."

As far as the future goes, Lewis said: "I feel that I still have the best race that I will ever run left in me. There's no question in my mind that I can run faster than 9.92."

Burrell, who was recruited to the University of Houston in 1985 by Lewis and has been coached by him, said beating Lewis has no effect on their friendship.

"Why does it have to be an adversarial type of thing?" Burrell asked. "This is the Goodwill Games, you know? Why does there have to be hate involved?"

"They're good training partners," said Mark Witherspoon, the bronze medalist in the 100 meters here and their Santa Monica Track Club teammate. "They joke around together, go out to dinner together."

At one point in the postrace press conference, a reporter asked: "Is this a press conference or a love-in?"

Lewis, smiling, shook his head.

"Leroy's not my type," he said.

After a shaky start that still had him in the lead, Burrell surged into command midway through the race, with Lewis just off his shoulder.

"We were actually running stride for stride," Burrell said. "We were both on our left {leg} at the same time and both on our right at the same time."

Just as training partners should.

"There's no doubt I can run better as time goes on, and run faster," Lewis said. "We both have better races down the road. I think it's going to be a very good situation for the sport."