By Jan Metcalf
Linford Christie famously burst onto the scene in the early 1990’s, capturing the imagination of the nation with his 100m gold medal win at the 1992 Seoul Olympics that announced him as one of the world’s premier athletes. Christie seemed destined to go onto dominate sprinting, and establish himself as one of Brtiain’s leading lights in the world of athletics.A series of unfortunate events throughout the latter half of the decade saw his reputation shredded and ultimately, leave his legacy as one of controversy.
A routine drugs test in 1999 after a meeting in Dortmund found Christie to have nearly 100 times the usual amount of Nandrolone in his system, and despite being exonerated due to a variety of doubts over the intent to take stimulants, the decision was overturned, and Christie was handed a 2 year ban, as well as having his Olympic accreditation revoked by the British Olympic Association, a punishment which still stands for this summer’s games. A series of legal disputes with journalist John McVicar and comedian Nick Hancock after their comments about the sprinter did little to restore Christie’s tarnished reputation, and kept his name in the headlines for the wrong reasons. Controversy always seemed to plague Christie even long after the fall out from the drugs ban, for instance in 2004, under rather humorous circumstances, a sculpture erected in appreciation of the sprinter named ‘The B of the Bang’ was deemed as ‘unsafe’ and forced to be dismantled.
An appearance on the ITV reality show ‘I’m a Celebrity: Get Me Out of Here’ brought Christie back into the public spotlight, but once again, his public image suffered a hammer blow after he was found guilty of causing a serious road accident after driving on the wrong side of the road, narrowly avoiding a jail term. This summer’s Olympic games in London will see Christie take on a mentor role for the British team, a decision that has been greeted with some scepticism amongst some within the Team GB camp. Ultimately however, whilst he will be remembered for his various controversies, at his peak, Linford Christie rightfully will go down as one of Britain’s greatest ever athletes, a feat acknowledged by the awarding of an OBE.
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