Drug cheat Ben Johnson features in sports betting ad

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SYDNEY (AP) The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency has made an official complaint over an advertisement for an online sports betting agency which features disgraced Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson.

Johnson, who was stripped of his gold medal in the 100 meters final at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games after testing positive for anabolic steroids, features in the 90 second television advertisement for the Australian company Sportsbet.

During the ad, which aired on Australian television last weekend, Johnson jokes about his doping ban, saying Sportsbet's new phone betting app ''puts the roid in Android.''

In a statement, ASADA condemned the ad's use of Johnson and its message.

''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,'' the statement said.

''This advertising campaign belittles the achievements of clean athletes and denigrates those who work to protect clean sport across the world.''

Australia's minister of health and sport Greg Hunt also condemned the advertisement as ''utterly inappropriate.''

Senior lawmaker Senator Nick Xenophon said ''it is just wrong on so many levels, glorifying a drug cheat, tying it in with gambling and promoting it to kids in a lighthearted way.''

But Sportsbet dismissed the criticism and said it had no plans to pull the advertisement.

''We've received overwhelmingly positive support from the public and they see it for what it is, a tongue-in-cheek joke,'' a spokesperson for the betting agency said.

ASADA said it had complained to the ''relevant authority.''