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Linford Christie will not be torch bearer

22 February 2008

Linford Christie Linford Christie
Controversial former sprinter Linford Christie will not carry the Olympic torch when it comes to London in April.

Christie, banned by the British Olympic Association after failing a drugs test, was invited by Mayor Ken Livingstone.

A Greater London Authority spokesperson denied the Mayor himself had taken the decision to contact Christie.

But Christie's agent Sue Barrett told BBC Radio 5 Live that she had a letter signed by Livingstone inviting Christie to be one of 80 torch bearers.

"I have a letter in front of me signed by Ken Livingstone," said Barrett.

"It says: 'I would be delighted if you would consider being one of our torch bearers, joining with us and up to 80 other well known personalities, who will each carry the torch for 250m.'"

But Barrett added that it would have always been unlikely that Christie could have been in London for the arrival of the Olympic torch on 6 April.

"While he'd be happy to be involved, it does clash with the period when he is out of the country doing warm weather training with his athletes," she said.

Confusion now surrounds the issue with the GLA - which is organising the London leg of the torch relay - maintaining that Livingstone did not invite Christie.

"The decision to invite Linford Christie to be a torchbearer was not taken by the Mayor," said a GLA spokesman.

"The Mayor only had the right to nominate five torchbearers and Christie was not one of them."

The Olympic torch will travel the world during the build-up to this year's Games in Beijing.

And the GLA has confirmed the names of three of the 80 bearers - Kelly Holmes, newscaster Sir Trevor McDonald and actress Amara Khan.

Other organisations able to nominate the 80 runners include the London 2012 Organising Committee, the Beijing 2008 Organising Committee and the torch relay sponsors.

Christie, who clinched the 1992 Olympic 100m title in Barcelona, is the only Briton to win 100m gold medals at Olympic, World, Commonwealth and European Championships.

However, since his ban Olympic authorities have distanced themselves from Christie, now 47.

And Thursday's reports of a decision to let Christie carry the torch provoked an angry response from the Games' governing body.

"The IOC has not been consulted about this and we wish we had been as we would have certainly strongly recommended not to give an invitation to an athlete who has an Olympic ban," said spokesperson Emmanuelle Moreau.

"We were surprised and disappointed and we wish we had been consulted."

Christie is planning to be in Beijing in his role as coach to 200m specialist Christian Malcolm.

But so far the BOA has reiterated its ban on Olympic accreditation for Christie remains in place and he will not be permitted access to the Olympic Villages or the trackside, either in Beijing or London in 2012.

"There is a lot of hypocrisy out there," said Barrett.

"Christie has been a part of the Olympics since his ban, not as a BOA-accredited coach but he was at an Olympics working alongside Darren Campbell."

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