Linford Christie

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Linford Christie : biography

2 April 1960 –

Reflecting upon his track career, he stated: "I will have no complaints if people remember me as one of the best athletes in the world." Away from the track, Christie, a keen amateur gardener, he also co-hosted the BBC series Garden Invaders.

In 1993 the West London Stadium was renamed the Linford Christie Stadium in his honour. Christie’s famous claim that he started races on the "B of the Bang" inspired a large public sculpture of the same name. Erected as a celebration of the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, it was officially unveiled by Christie in 2004. Owing to safety concerns, it was dismantled in 2009.

Drug ban

Christie tested positive for the stimulant Pseudoephedrine at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, but he escaped sanction after the International Olympic Committee’s disciplinary committee voted by a margin of 11 to 10. BBC Sport (21 November 2000) Retrieved on 2009-01-20 It was reported that two of the judging panels were asleep when the vote was taken. Reference to this is made in a television advert Christie made for Egg online banking in Autumn 1998.

At the 1994 European championships staged in Helsinki, where British team captain Christie won his third European 100 m title, he was caught up in a doping controversy after Solomon Wariso, a 400 m runner making his international championship debut, tested positive for the stimulant ephedrine. Wariso revealed that he had used an over-the-counter pick-you-up called "Up Your Gas", which Christie had bought at a Florida pharmacy.

In 1999, Christie was found guilty of using the performance enhancing drug Nandrolone following a doping test after an indoor meet in Germany. He was found to have more than 100 times normal levels of the metabolites of nandrolone in his urine. Various explanations were offered to explain the results, including eating avocado, or using nutritional supplements.Professor Ron Maughan, University of Aberdeen. PubMed Retrieved 2009-01-20 BBC Sport (2 August 2000) Retrieved on 2009-01-20

The IAAF rejected that explanation and gave Christie a two-year ban from athletics, despite UK Athletics feeling that there was "reasonable doubt whether the drug had been taken deliberately", a decision which ignored the usual drug testing principle of "strict liability". BBC Sport (21 August 2000) Retrieved on 2009-01-20

Christie has always denied any wrongdoing. "If I took drugs there had to be a reason to take drugs. I had pretty much retired from the sport." Furthermore, he denied that his physique was gained through drug use and promoted an anti-steroid approach: "It does not follow that all athletes who are big take drugs… Only by testing all athletes will the sport be kept clean of drugs."

Following the ban, the British Olympic Association announced that Christie would not be accredited for any future Olympic Games, in accordance with their regulations.

Television

In 2006, he made his acting debut on the BBC programme Hustle (TV Series). In 2010, Christie appeared on the UK ITV television channel’s I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! show, subsequently becoming the sixth person to be eliminated, on 30 November 2010.

2011 driving ban

On 8 May 2010, Christie caused a head-on crash with a taxi as a result of driving on the wrong side of the A413 road in Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire. Four people, including a newly-wed couple, were hurt. He was convicted of careless driving, and was disqualified from driving for 15 months and fined £5000, being acquitted of dangerous driving.

Role in the 2012 Olympics

In the successful London bid for the 2012 Olympic Games, Christie was absent from the team, even though he has stated that he attempted to get involved. Christie has cited an ongoing feud between himself and former team-mate Sebastian Coe as a likely reason for the snub, BBC Sport (14 October 2005) Retrieved on 2009-01-20 BBC Sport (8 February 2002) Retrieved on 2009-01-20 although since 1999 British athletics chiefs had "overlooked" Christie because of his positive nandrolone test. BBC Sport (5 July 2006) Retrieved on 2009-01-20 Commenting on the argument, Christie’s team mate, Derek Redmond, said he was "a well-balanced athlete; he has a chip on both shoulders." BBC Sport (11 August 2006) Retrieved on 2009-01-20

However in April 2006 it was announced that Christie would be a senior mentor for athletes on the national team, along with former athletes Steve Backley, Daley Thompson and Katharine Merry. BBC Sport (4 August 2006) Retrieved on 2008-01-20 This proved controversial however, due to Christie’s drugs ban. "I don’t think he should be in that mentor role," said Paula Radcliffe, the marathon world record-holder. "We have to make sure that the people in that mentor role have an integrity and strong sense of ethics and morals." BBC Sport (13 August 2006) Retrieved on 2009-01-20

The BOA has confirmed that their ban on Olympic accreditation for Christie remains in place. He was, however, invited to be one of the carriers of the 2012 Olympic Torch on its journey through London, although he was unable to accept because of coaching commitments. BBC Sport (22 February 2008) Retrieved on 2009-01-20

Notes