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When the athlete, Ben Johnson, was disqualified from the Seoul Olympic games for taking drugs, he lost more than his gold medal and his good name. He said goodbye to 5 million dollars in possible sponsorship money. Sport is big business. Today's sports stars can earn as much on television as they can on the tennis court, golf course or football pitch.
Most of the money comes from advertising clothes, sports equipment, drinks and other products, Ivan Lendl earns 1.3 million dollars a year for wearing Adidas clothes and Ray-Ban sunglasses. He is the world's richest tennis player. The richest sports star of all is the boxer, Muhammed Ali. He has earned 39 million dollars invalid out of the boxing ring. Most of the money in boxing comes from prize money. Sponsors like sports, which have a cleaner, more glamorous image than boxing - sports like tennis, golf, motor racing and skiing.
Sports can change their image. At one time snooker was only a game that was played in clubs. But since colour television arrived, it has become the most popular sport on British television. Top snooker player, Steve Davis, earns over 1 million dollars a year in prize money, sponsorship and fees for appearing on television. On the other hand, some sports, like athletics and football, are less popular with sponsors because of bad publicity about drugs and fighting by fans.
Sponsors want the best image for their products. They want stars who are the best on the athletics track or the motor racing circuit. But they also want stars who are good-looking and who have an interesting personality - stars like Argentina's young tennis player, Gabriela Sabatini, Spanish golfer, Severano Ballesteros, French motor racing driver, Alain Prost, America's running star, 'Flo Jo' Johnson or Switzerland's champion skier, Pirmin Zubriggen.