9.79, ESPN 30 FOR 30.
The Documentary 9.79 is an episode of ESPN 30 for 30, directed by Daniel Gordon in 2012. 9.79 is a sports/track and field documentary about the 100m finals at the Seoul Olympics games back in 1988 and its controversy with drugs and cheating that went on at the games and the events leading up to it with two of the fastest men in history and there story about failing drug test, Ben Johnson and Carl Lewis who were two dominant sprinters in this day and age and had a rivalry like no other. Throughout the documentary it tells a story line of both athletes leading up two the games, including their lifestyles and sporting careers, lifestyle issues and injuries as well as a couple of the other 100m finalist that co star in 9.79. The story reveals both stars lives, as well as a rising drug problem in track and field that started to come about the time of the Seoul Olympics, since there was a rise of sport enhancing drugs being used. 9.79 was released back in 2012, ironically the same year as the London Olympics takes place, as well as the IOC (International Olympic Council) and IAAF (International athletics association federation) under scrutiny due to covering up failed testing throughout the system.
I think this documentary has two purposes, I think the first one which is more of a story telling purpose and that’s to tell the tale of one of the greatest sporting rivalry’s and athletes there has ever been in track and field. This purpose opens the documentary to a wider audience other than track and field fans, but sporting fans in general, because who doesn’t like a good rivalry. The other purpose, which I believe to be the more important issue, specially with it being released when it did was the issue of drugs in track and field at the time and how it was getting out of hand, as you see in the documentary that 6 of the 8 athletes in the 100m final all tested positive for a sport enhancing drug and some were involved in the distribution and selling to other elite athletes. This is the ultimate juicy sporting tale. I also think this helped bring attention to the drug problem that was going on around the Olympics back in Seoul and the issue in London, that over the years nothing has really changed and that its time too. One really fascinating part of the documentary was listening to the head of the doping control from the Olympic council back in Seoul discussing the drug problem and that he personally re tested samples from back then with todays technology and the results he saw was shocking, even for him. This is a clear demonstration in the film that there’s always been a huge problem with doping, but went onto to say they are finding new ways everyday and its true since the amount of failed test in the last couple of years, particular before Rio have seen a dramatic increase.
Throughout the film, its interesting to hear directly from every athlete that was on the starting line back on one of the most historic moments in track and field first hand. It created such a better connection then testimonies from actors or third parties. I also enjoyed hearing information from team mates, coaches and members of the doping and Olympic Council who all spoke along side real life news clips, news paper articles and journalist that were about around this time. It made everything more surreal. Overall, putting my bias views aside as a lover of track and field I think anyone can sit down and enjoy this documentary. We all have this conspiracy about drugs in sport, but this brought it to life and threw it in your face to the point there was no denying or running away from the issue. Finally I think it brought to light a serious issue in todays society and sport as well as back in the day, along side a story that leaves you sitting on the edge of your seat as it showed every race over the year leading up to the games to see who was going to win out of Lewis and Johnson. However, these sort of stories don't appeal to the biggest of audiences therefore being one of its only let downs.