Javier Sotomayor Sanabria (born October 13, 1967 in Limonar, Matanzas Province) is a Cuban former athlete who specialized in the high jump. He is 1.95 meters tall. He is almost unanimously viewed as the best high jumper of all time.
Sotomayor set an age 16 world record in 1984 of 2.33 metres in Havana, but was not able to go to the 1984 Olympics due to the Cuban boycott. In 1985 he took silver in the World Indoor Championships with a best jump of 2.30 metres, and won his first title in 1987, at the Pan American Games. The following year at Salamanca he set a world record of 2.43 metres, but was denied the chance to compete at the 1988 Olympics due to another Cuban boycott.
He twice increased the world record, to 2.44 metres on July 29, 1989 in San Juan and to the current record of 2.45 meters (8 ft ½ in) on July 23, 1993 in Salamanca. Sotomayor also set the current world indoor record of 2.43 meters on March 4, 1989 in Budapest.
When he was finally able to compete in the Olympics he won the gold medal at the 1992 Olympics and the silver medal at the 2000 Olympics (after the reversal of a drug suspension for cocaine use). Between the games he won the 1993 and 1997 World Championship.
Sotomayor has a rare dominance in the history of this event. Of the 24 all-time best high jumps, 17 are his; he has cleared 2.40 meters more times than any other athlete and is the only person to have cleared 2.44 m (8 ft). The last time he cleared 2.40 meters was on March 25, 1995 at the Pan American Games in Mar del Plata, Argentina. No one has jumped higher since.It was only equaled by Vyacheslav Voronin in London in August 2000.
Sotomayor was tested positively for cocaine use at the 1999 Pan American Games, which Fidel Castro claimed was a set up by the Cuban-American Mafia , and where Sotomayor claimed his innocence. IAAF followed up the suspension of Sotomayor by shortening it to still let him compete in the 2000 Summer Olympics in a controversial decision. IAAF's motivation for this action was that Sotomayor had done so much for the sport and acted exemplarily during his career.
In September 2001, Sotomayor announced that he would end his career, following yet another positive drug test made during a training camp earlier in June, this time for the anabolic steroid nandrolone. He avoided a lifetime ban that would normally follow a second positive test by leaving the sport. This second test disqualified his fourth position in his last World Championship. Once again, Sotomayor claimed he was innocent and this time claimed mistakes had been made during the handling of his doping test.
These allegations never gained strong support in his home country Cuba , although former IAAF Vice President and Doping Commission Chairman Arne Ljungqvist subsequently claimed these were both "crystal clear cases" in a Swedish interview.