Randy Barnes - U.S.A. - Olympic Games gold & silver medals before life ban.

Photo/Foto: George Herringshaw

Date: 23 September 1988

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Randy BARNES - U.S.A. - Olympic Games gold & silver medals before life ban.


The career of Randy Barnes had several chapters, progressing from precocious talent, to banned drug cheat, to an Olympic gold medal, and finally to a lifetime ban for drug taking. Barnes made a sensational start to his senior career in a truncated 1986 season, progressing from 19.83m indoors to 21.08m outdoors, and finally to 21.88m at Waco on 18 April. A finger injury sustained soon afterwards, which subsequently required surgery, prevented him from competing during the remainder of that season. Randy returned to competition in 1987, producing a best mark of 20.94m at Arlington on 9 May.


Barnes made a strong start to the 1988 season, first reaching 21.72m indoors, and then setting a new personal best of 22.11m early in the outdoor season at Walnut on 24 April. At Indianapolis, on 15 July, he threw 21.88m for victory at the USA Olympic Trials and qualify for his first Olympic Games in Seoul, and followed this with a new personal best of 21.42m at Zurich on 17 August. In the Olympic final at Seoul, Barnes threw 20.17m on his first throw, which placed him in fifth place behind world record holder Ulf Timmermann (East Germany) at the end of round one. Randy improved to 20.72m with his second round throw, which moved him into fourth place, and then fouled his third throw, while Timmermann improved his lead to 22.16m. Barnes got his fourth throw out to 21.31m but this still left him in fourth place, the position he held until the last round, where he threw 22.39m (see photo above) to move into the gold medal position. Timmermann had one last chance to regain the lead he had held since the first round, and he responded with throw of 22.47m to win the gold medal and relegate Randy to second place. (Ron Casey)



20th. August 1993.   Photo George Herringshaw. ©

Randy Barnes returns from first ban with Shot Put silver at 1993 World Championships.

Randy Barnes made a spectacular start to his shot-putting career. In an event where athletes usually don't reach their peak until their late twenties, Barnes won an Olympic silver medal in 1988 at only 22 years of age. Early the following year, Barnes set an indoor world record of 22.66m at the Sunkist Invitational at Los Angeles on 20 January, which exceeded his outdoor personal best of 22.42m set in August 1988. Despite his new status as indoor world record holder, Barnes experienced difficulty finding his form at the World Indoor Championships in Budapest on 4 March. Randy was only in sixth place prior to his final throw, but responded in the final round with a throw of 21.28m, to win the silver medal behind 1988 Olympic gold medallist Ulf Timmermann (East Germany).


Barnes produced a number of good performances during the 1989 outdoor season, although at the World Cup in Barcelona on 8 September, he only finished third behind Timmermann and Werner Gunthor (Switzerland). On 20 May 1990, Barnes broke Timmermann's world record, when he produced a throw of 23.12m at Westwood. Six days later, he threw the second longest throw in history of 23.10m at San Jose. However, these performances were somewhat soured when Barnes tested positive for the drug methyltestosterone at Malmo on 7 August, and was subsequently banned from competition for two years. Barnes returned to competition in February 1993, and quickly established his supremacy by winning the USA national championships at Eugene on 18 June.


At the World Championships in Stuttgart, Barnes breezed through the qualifying round (see photo above) on 20 August, and then in the final the following day, he produced two throws of 21.80m to win the silver medal behind Gunthor. (Ron Casey)



Randy Barnes is seen here competing at the 1995 World Championships. Photo G.Herringshaw. ©


                                                 1996 Olympic Shot Put Champion.


Following his two-year suspension for positive drug testing in 1990, Randy Barnes made a successful return to competition in 1993, when he finished second in the shot put at the World Championships in Stuttgart. Barnes had a relatively quiet year in 1994, producing a best throw of 20.82m at El Paso on 16 April, and finishing second behind C.J. Hunter at the USA national championships in Knoxville on 17 June. In 1995, USA shot putters dominated the world scene, and Barnes just made the national team to the World Championships in Gothenburg when he finished third at the national championships in Sacramento on 18 June. At Gothenburg, Barnes headed the qualifiers on 8 August with a throw of 21.30m, but in the final the following day, he was only able to produce a best put (see photo above) of 20.41m, to earn the bronze medal.


Barnes was far more dominant in the 1996 season, when he won the USA national title in Atlanta on 15 June with 21.37m, and then produced the best performance of the year at Rudlingen on 13 July, when he threw 22.40m, which was over a metre further than the best throw by the year's second best performer John Godina (USA). However, less than two weeks later, in the Olympics Games final at Atlanta, Barnes struggled to capture his early season form. As Randy entered the ring for the last time he was lying only 6th with a best put of 20.44m, behind Godina's leading throw of 20.79m. Barnes responded magnificently to the pressure by hurling the shot 21.62m to easily win the gold medal.


Randy's career came to a rather ignominious end in early 1998, when he tested positive for the drug androstenedione, and he was subsequently banned for life as it was his second positive drug test. (Ron Casey)