Charlie Francis has died

He was obviously brilliant when it came to anything to do with athletic performance. I was amazed at the breadth of his knowledge in other areas. He was keen to talk about politics, economics, old movies, etc. I will certainly cherish the memories of the times I went to TO to work with him. There are a lot of good coaches, but only one Charlie. He was a trailblazer. He went against the status quo, and as a result, many thought he was crazy. Vertical Integration was Charlie’s baby. How many great coaches can say they have a system like CFTS, that is something we can all use. He advocated truth and honesty, which is such a fleeting thing these days. I respected him for making a stand and sticking to it, regardless of how he was perceived. The main stream media pisses me off because all they can talk about is the scandal, nothing of the brilliance of him, his generosity, his caring. The only article worthy of him was the Toronto Sun piece. It paints him more accurately. I was lucky to have been able to call him my mentor and friend. RIP Charlie.

I’m truly shattered! He gave me knowledge, inspiration and set me up with a chance at big time coaching. Just like that, an unknown kid from Serbia. He touched my life in a major way. Even though I’ve never met him in person, I’m happy that he at least got my thanks via email. I can’t think of a single person in the world of coaching that has left such a legacy.
You will never be forgotten Charlie

From: The Sydney Daily Telegraph May 14, 2010 12:00AM

By Mike Hurst

I RECEIVED an email from Charlie Francis on Monday. He was excited about starting stem-cell therapy for the cancer he had been battling for the past five years.

“The stem-cell match came through, literally at the 11th hour,” he wrote. “I’ll be in the hosp for the first of 3 hits starting tonight for about a week with 3 week gaps in between - then I get the huge hit and they try to save me with the stem cells they now have.”

I awoke yesterday morning to the news of Charlie’s death. Like 10,824 members of his internet coaching forum (, I am shocked and saddened.

Especially saddened at the news agency reports that typically dismiss Charlie as “the coach who gave dope to Ben Johnson, the first Olympic champion ever to be disqualified”. The charge was true and, to his credit, he never denied it.

“I’m not going to perjure myself,” he told me back in 1989 as he was called to testify at Canada’s judicial inquiry into doping in sport which became known as the Dubin Inquiry.

“There is a level playing field out there. It’s just not the playing field you think it is,” he told Justice Charles Dubin back then, the implication being that if all the medal contenders are using dope, then ultimately it must come down to who has the best coach and training program.

And by the brilliance of his mind and the strength of his personality, Charlie turned coaching on its head, in much the same way that he exposed the great track and field swindle at the Dubin Inquiry with the use of facts.

With his interpretation of science-based facts related to the physiology of exercise, Charlie - through personal consultations, training manuals, books (notably Speed Trap) and DVDs - has influenced every athlete who has run 100m in 9.8sec or faster, whether they are conscious of the source of their knowledge or not.

So many sportswriters since that day of infamy in Seoul in 1988 portrayed Charlie as a lone wolf, a pariah in the athletics community, a one-off rogue coach.

Since Johnson was busted, though, far more than 1000 elite sportsmen and women have failed drug tests - none of them associated with Charlie.

Yet he remains the only coach ever to stand up in public and tell it how it was, and probably still is.

Charlie acknowledged his “wrong-headedness” and although banned for life from coaching in Canada, he had spent the rest of his years trying to make amends by helping journalists expose the frauds and helping coaches and athletes - including contemporary Canadian champions - arrive at victory without doping.

A Stanford University graduate in modern history, Charlie had a piercing intellect and a wicked sense of humour.

When Ben Johnson’s lawyer tried to get his client out of the Dubin Inquiry smelling like roses he presented Ben as mentally incompetent and thereby unable to understand that he was taking a banned product. Charlie quipped to me: “Ben is trying to demonstrate diminished capacity by his choice of lawyer.”

Johnson, who eventually admitted knowingly taking banned drugs, was at Charlie’s side in hospital shortly before he died.

His wife, Ange, told me Charlie, 61, died after contracting an infection following chemotherapy to annihilate the cancer as a prelude to receiving the stem-cell treatment.

“It was fast, peaceful, not too much pain,” Ange said.

"It was literally within hours. James [their 11-year-old son] and I were by his side.

“Charlie was totally lucid. I was crying. He said, ‘Don’t cry sweetie … it’s been a good run’.”

That’s probably the best piece i have read on Charlie. They capture his humour with that quote about the lawyer and also the facts. The one thing they forget to mention is he did it all because he thought it was the best thing for his athletes - whether we deem it right or wrong. A fitting tribute.

At first I thought this was a sick joke. I really am surprised, because
members where asking him all kinds of questions and he always took the time to answer them. I never knew or met him personally but my current coach (and his old coach) always said that Charlie Francis is/was a brilliant man and that sprinter(coaches) could learn a lot from him.

My condolences go out to his family and friends.


bless you Charlie Francis


My coaching will always be based on the teachings of Charlie Francis.

am totally regards to angie and her son.

Nice picture of Charlie in this obituary in the New York Times.

I found this passage, explaining Charlie’s profound sense of justice, compelling:

Richard Pound, a former vice president of the I.O.C., said Francis became increasingly frustrated in the late 1970s and ’80s with what he felt was a lack of response from international track officials — then known as the International Amateur Athletic Federation — in punishing athletes who used performance-enhancing drugs.

“He and a number of the Canadian folks tried to talk the I.A.A.F. into life bans, and the I.A.A.F. refused to budge,” Pound said. “So he went over to the dark side. He said, ‘I’m not going to have my runners start a meter behind.’ ”

RIP Charlie, We’ll miss you

Thank You.

CF was very unlucky to die of an infection just before receiving stem cell therapy. Invariably those on chemotherapy are susceptible to infection because all the white blood cells need to eliminated.

Charlie looked at things in a very holistic manner and I am deeply saddened by his death.

It’s kind of eerie because CF made some posts just a few days ago.


And thank you for everything.

Thank you, Charlie, it has been great knowing you, if only over the web. You have been a part of nearly every day of my life since I discovered, and you will be greatly missed.

I have much respect for a man who was a true leader in his field and according to his former athletes, spent so much time helping them to chase their dreams.

My deepest condolences to the Francis family. I can only thank you for the knowledge so willingly and patiently imparted by Charlie; not just his insight into sprinting but life in general.

I would have loved to have met him. That won’t happen now but I agree with the others who say that his philosophy carries on with our coaching and performances on the track or wherever you express your sporting talent.

The greatest sprint coach? I believe so - and a helluva good guy as well. Never knew him personally but I will miss him like crazy.

R.I.P. Charlie and thank you so much… I owe you a lot :frowning:
My deepest condolences to the Francis family, Angie and James. If I can be of any help please let me know!

What a great loss to our field! Condolences to his family. When I was being mentored by number2 - I had a number of chances to hear Charlie speak when Derek brought him in for conferences and clinics. His knowledge on the human body’s adaptation to training stimuli was truly phenomenal - whether it pertained to track or any other sport. His influence will be felt in the strength & conditioning world for decades to come. He has even had a large influence on the leading scorer in the current NHL playoffs:

Cammalleri remains a Francis fan - Chris Stevenson (Toronto Sun)

PITTSBURGH - He still has the hand-written notes, the regimen that is almost commonplace now, but was unheard of then.

Mike Cammalleri didn’t know Charlie Francis had passed away until he was asked about the controversial track coach’s impact on his life after Wednesday’s Game 7 victory by the Montreal Canadiens over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“Really? No…he did?” asked Cammalleri, who scored what turned out to be the game winner in the Canadiens 5-2 slaying of the defending Stanley Cup champions, Cammalleri a big part of the biggest story of these playoffs.

“My thoughts go out to him and his family. It was a pleasure to have met such a genius in my lifetime. He was one of the ultimate geniuses when it came to training and the human body.”

Francis passed away at the age of 61 after a five-year battle with cancer, the controversy surrounding him not dissuading Leo Cammalleri from wanting Francis to take his then 10-year-old son under his wing.

Most of the media crush had left the Canadiens tiny dressing room at the Igloo after the game and the bus and the plane back to Montreal were waiting, but Cammalleri settled back onto the bench.

“You want to hear the story?” he asked.

When Cammalleri was that 10-year-old and playing for the Toronto Red Wings, he and his dad would go to the Golden Griddle at Finch and Dufferin in Toronto and, one morning shortly after the Seoul Olympics and the fallout of the Ben Johnson scandal, Leo Cammalleri recognized Francis and approached him.

He asked Francis to consider training his son, but Francis, eyeing the little 10-year-old, said he was too young.

“Read my book,” he said to Leo Cammalleri, referring to “Speed Trap,” “and bring him back when he’s 14 or 15.”

Leo Cammalleri didn’t forget it. When Mike got to that age, he met Francis at his house and they went to a neighbourhood park.

“Back then, everybody was running 10 miles to train for hockey. Nobody was sprinting, working on their explosiveness or their speed,” said Cammalleri. “He was kind of tentative to give out his knowledge after what had happened, but he taught me the fundamentals I still use today, to try a different way for a hockey player. I sprinted with all his guys during the summers, even Ben a little bit. Now it’s the norm among the cream of the crop.”

When Cammalleri signed with the Habs, Francis became a fan of the Canadiens and watched Cammalleri help power the Canadiens’ run against the Penguins.

He watched that little 10-year-old he had first seen in that pancake spot become the hottest stick in these playoffs and could know that he had a hand in helping Cammalleri become a crucial part of what has become the biggest story in these playoffs.

Thanks in large part to Cammalleri’s playoffs-leading 12 goals, the Canadiens have upset the Presidents Trophy-winning Washington Capitals and the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins and Sidney Crosby.

It is starting to smell like 1993 now, the last time the Canadiens won the Stanley Cup, when the favourites fell early and a path to the final opened up for the Habs.

This time, however, it is the Canadiens who are paving their own way.

Cammalleri finished his story and stood up from the bench, friends waiting to say hello and celebrate another stunning win by the Canadiens.

He paused on his way to the door.

“You mention Charlie Francis to the best trainers in the world and they have a lot of respect for him,” said Cammalleri, who said he last spoke to Francis two summers ago.

“I still have my book of workouts. Still use them. He told me what to do and I wrote it down.”

Now Cammalleri is helping the Habs write a wonderful story, the end still wonderfully unknown.

Charlie Francis went knowing he had a hand in a part of the beginning.
Cammalleri remains a Francis fan

My thoughts are with his family at this sad time x

Very, very sad. best wishes to the Francis family. R.I.P Charlie.