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Last Updated: Friday, 11 August 2006, 16:30 GMT 17:30 UK
Faces of the week
Faces of the Week

Our regular look at some of the faces which have made the news this week. Above are Linford Christie (main picture), with Lady Thatcher, Bryan Ferry, Damilola Taylor and Princess Beatrice.

Linford Christie

The Olympic gold medal winner, 46-year-old Linford Christie OBE, has been announced as a mentor for senior athletes by UK Athletics. The appointment has surprised some people because Christie was banned from the sport in 1999 after testing positive for the banned substance, nandrolone.

Linford Christie's career has known unparalleled highs and lows.

He was the first man in history to hold the Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth titles in the 100m and by the end of his track career Christie had won 23 medals overall, more than any other British male athlete before or since.

But he was the subject of two scandals related to drugs and won a libel case against a journalist who accused him of using banned substances. And in the run-up to Britain's Olympic bid he had a public feud with the bid's leader, Lord Coe.

Linford Christie and Dave Collins of UK Athletics
Back on track? Linford Christie and Dave Collins of UK Athletics
Christie was prevented from participating in the bid and from the celebrations following the allocation of the 2012 Games to London.

He felt aggrieved at his exclusion, and felt that he had been victimised. But his former co-athlete, Derek Redmond has described Christie as "a well-balanced athlete; he has a chip on both shoulders".

Linford Christie was born in Jamaica and moved to England when he was seven, to join his parents who had moved five years earlier. He grew up in a modest home in west London, not far from the stadium which has now been renamed after him.

After leaving school at 16, Linford Christie held a variety of jobs while training, though not in a committed way, preferring to maintain a good social life. It was in this period that he fathered three children.

He got serious about his running at the age of 19 but took time to get to the top, failing to make the British team for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.

But in 1986 he unexpectedly won the 100m at the European Championship and took Silver at the Commonwealth Games.

Two things can come to their mind - admiration and envy
Linford Christie on people's reactions to his physique
The 1988 Seoul Olympics was tainted by drugs-related controversy. Ben Johnson set a new world record in 9.79 seconds but was disqualified for a doping offence.

This left Carl Lewis with the gold and Linford Christie with the silver. Christie himself was not completely unscathed, however, after his urine tested positive for pseudoephedrine. He claimed this was the result of drinking ginseng tea and was given an official "benefit of the doubt".

He went on to win the gold in Barcelona in 1992 and was voted the BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1993.

Linford Christie had become a household name and was a near-constant feature in the papers, though he had an uneasy relationship with the press.

Much of the attention he attracted in print was related to his physical attributes, which he displayed by wearing tightly-fitting running suits made of Lycra. Christie preferred the focus to be on his sporting prowess and his discomfort inspired him to wear a Lycra suit printed with press clippings.

Christie winning gold at Barcelona
Golden moment - Christie winning 100m at the Barcelona Olympics
In 1998 Linford Christie sued the journalist John McVicar for libel, after McVicar accused him in print of being a drugs cheat.

The 40,000 damages he was awarded, though, did not cover the costs incurred to bring the case.

A side-effect of the court case was further press coverage, especially of an outburst from Christie about the reporting of his physique.

Asked in court whether his difficult relationship with the press was because journalists had implied that he was a steroid user, Christie said: "Linford's lunchbox is one of my grievances with the media. I don't like it. I think it is a stereotype."

This led the 70-year-old judge to ask "What is Linford's lunchbox?", thereby reinforcing the public view of judges in general and adding more grist to the tabloids' mill.

Rehabilitation

By now, Christie was becoming less successful on the track and in the 1996 Olympic final he had been disqualified after two false starts.

His ultimate disgrace came in 1999 when he competed in an indoor meet in Germany and at a routine doping test was found guilty of taking the banned drug nandrolone.

Christie still denies the transgression, saying "If I took drugs there had to be a reason to take drugs. I had pretty much retired from the sport."

Linford in Lycra
Linford in Lycra
His protestation of innocence was accepted by the sport's British governing body, UK Athletics but rejected by the International Association of Athletics Federations.

The IAAF ban led the British Olympic Association to decree that Christie would never be allowed team accreditation for any future Olympic Games and following his appointment as mentor to athletes by UK Athletics, the BOA has confirmed that their sanction would remain in place.

This could be a problem for Christie in his new role if he were to be refused access to the elite athletes whom he will be mentoring, either in the Olympic Village in Beijing in 2008 or in London in 2012.

The UK Athletics appointment will be seen by many, though, as a rehabilitation of Linford Christie and his reputation.

So perhaps with his new role, the accusations against him may recede in favour of his achievements.


Lady Thatcher
Lady Thatcher

The Prime Minister Tony Blair has denied that there are plans for a state funeral for Lady Thatcher. Labour MP, Rosie Cooper, is said to have protested over reports that civil servants were drawing up detailed plans for a state funeral for the country's only woman prime minister. Lady Thatcher, who is 80, is reported to be in good physical health.

Bryan Ferry
Bryan Ferry

The suave former frontman of Roxy Music, Bryan Ferry, is to be the new face of Marks and Spencer tailored menswear. The singer, who is known for his natty clothing, has been photographed by David Bailey modelling a number of outfits from the store's Autograph clothing range.

Damilola Taylor
Damilola Taylor

Ricky Preddie, 19, and his 18-year-old brother Danny have been found guilty of the manslaughter of Damilola Taylor. The 10 year old bled to death after being cut with a broken bottle in Peckham in south London nearly six years ago. At the time of the attack one of the Preddies was being monitored by the Southwark Youth Offending Team and the other was on bail for robbery and detained at a children's home.

Princess Beatrice
Princess Beatrice

The fifth in line to the throne, Princess Beatrice, has said she looks to her mother as a role model. On a visit to a cancer trust for teenagers with Sarah, Duchess of York, she said she saw herself as a "mini-mummy". The Princess undertook the visit to mark her 18th birthday. Her mother accepted the compliment graciously, saying "you do everything much better, much better".

Written by BBC News Profiles Unit's Natasha Gruneberg




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