Ben Johnson: I feel for Armstrong, I respect him

Ben Johnson, left, and Lance Armstrong, right, have become the poster boys for international doping violations. (AP)

Former Olympic sprinter Ben Johnson says he empathizes with disgraced cycling superstar Lance Armstrong.

Johnson, a Olympic champion in the 100 metres, and Armstrong, a seven-time Tour de France champion, had their titles revoked and their reputations tarnished after being caught using performance enhancing drugs.

“I feel for him, I respect him as a man, as an athlete,” Johnson told Jeff Blair on Sportsnet 590 the Fan, Tuesday. “We all do things to be winners, to be champion.”

Johnson is currently on a tour promoting an anti-doping campaign called Pure Sport, created by Jaimie Fuller, chairman of the sportswear company SKINS.

Ben Johnson and Jaimie Fuller talk about their anti-doping campaign with Jeff Blair on Sportsnet 590 The Fan

In the fall of 1988, Johnson was stripped of an Olympic gold medal and a world record in Seoul after testing positive for steroids in one of the most notorious sports scandals in history.

Armstrong won seven Tour de France titles between 1999 and 2005m but has since had them revoked and been imposed with a lifetime ban from competitive cycling.

Johnson said he’s curious to see how Armstrong will bounce back from a scandal that made headlines around the world.

“I’ve never met him, but he seems like a nice guy,” Johnson said. “We are in similar (situations) in our lives. He had a great natural ability, but it’s overshadowed by steroids.”

Johnson and Fuller said they aim to create an athlete support council in order to help and rehabilitate athletes that have been caught doping.