By Sean Tepper
A two-time National Newspaper Award winner, Randy Starkman, Canada’s most prominent amateur athletics journalist, passed away Monday at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto surrounded by his family. He was 51.
Starkman exposed Olympic sprinter Ben Johnson’s second positive steroid test in 1993 as well as having covered 12 Olympic Games, He was diagnosed with pneumonia after returning from Montreal where he was covering Canada’s Olympic swimming trials. He spent a number of days in intensive care.
Having covered sports for United Press Canada and the Toronto Star, Starkman started his journalism career at Ryerson where he was a frequent contributor to The Eyeopener in 1979.
“He came into the Eyeopener office as a first-year wanting to write about sports,” said Steve McAllister, who was the Eyeopener’s sports editor in 1979.
Although Starkman only spent less than two years at Ryerson before being offered a job to cover sports professionally for United Press Canada, McAllister always remembered how eager he used to be.
“It wasn’t one article a week, it was two or three,” he said. “He was definitely my go-to-guy. He became my best friend.”
When they were not putting together the Eyeopener’s sports section, Starkman and McAllister were playing intermural broomball. Their team, named the journalism-addicts, would play once a week at Moss Park.
Although he never officially graduated from Ryerson, Starkman returned to his alma mater to guest lecture about sports journalism. Anthony Lopopolo, a fourth year journalism student and former sports editor remembers how passionate Starkman was when he came into his sports reporting class in 2010.
“When these reporters come into our class, I just expect them to talk bout how to get access to athletes and how to get them to talk, But Randy Starkman was different,” he said. “You could tell that right when he started talking he loved what he did and as someone who wants to get into sports journalism it was great to see that kind of passion in a reporter.”
Throughout his career, Starkman was offered to cover more high-profile beats such as the Toronto Maple Leafs and Blue Jays, but he turned them all down to continue covering amateur athletics and the Olympics.
“It was refreshing to see him walk into the classroom and hear him talk about how much he cared about athletes,” said Lopopolo. “He told us that he just wanted to cover amateur sports. That’s where his heart lied.”
The late Starkman is survived by his wife Mary Hynes and their teenaged daughter, Ella.