OTTAWA, JAN. 26 -- Ben Johnson ran to victory in the 55-meter dash of the Ottawa Winternational indoor meet tonight, his first victory since the drug-tainted Olympic 100-meter final in 1988.
With about 6,000 fans cheering him on, Johnson hit the finish tape in 6.20 seconds, .01 second ahead of Canadian Brian Morrison. In third was Floridian Daron Council, who spoiled Johnson's celebrated return to track by edging him at 50 meters in the Hamilton, Ontario, indoor meet two weeks ago.
"I've been out for two years. . . . It takes time to adjust," Johnson said after receiving a hug from his mother and a standing ovation from the crowd. "I'll just have to work on my starts."
Johnson's time broke the Canadian 55-meter record of 6.21 held by Mark McKoy. Johnson's previous national mark of 6.01 had been wiped from the books because of his steroid suspension.
"It kind of feels good, but the way it is now I'm not very happy because I have a lot more things to work on," Johnson said.
Johnson's start was better, but he said he still has to work on getting out of the blocks. "It's going to take me a couple of more races."
"He's coming back," said Johnson's coach, Loren Seagrave. "But he's still got lots of work to do. This is just another step on a long road back."
"I wasn't really focusing on a fast time," Johnson said. "I just wanted to win."
The Hamilton event was Johnson's first since completing a two-year suspension for steroid use. A positive drug test following his record-shattering 100-meter victory in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul led to his disqualification, the return of his gold medal and a lengthy government study of drug use in sports.
Johnson followed his ballyhooed return in Hamilton with a second-place finish in the Sunkist Invitational in Los Angeles.
Tonight's time, as was the case in the first two races, didn't come close to matching those that Johnson clocked while on steroids. Missing since his return was the explosive start that put up record 100-meter times of 9.83 and then, at Seoul, 9.79 seconds, both subsequently removed from the books because of failed drug tests.
The Ottawa race was Johnson's last before heading to meets in Japan and Europe, including the world indoor track and field championships in Seville, Spain, in March.
France Meet: Michael Johnson broke his U.S. record for the indoor 200 meters as he ran 20.55 in a meet in Lievin, France. His previous record was 20.59. Nikolai Antonov of the Soviet Union was second, followed by American Dennis Mitchell.
Terrier Classic: Sonia O'Sullivan of Villanova set a world record for the women's indoor 5,000-meter run in the Friday meet at Boston University. O'Sullivan was timed in 15 minutes 17.28 seconds, beating the 15:22.64 recorded by Lynn Jennings a year ago.