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Tuesday, 27 February, 2001, 23:05 GMT
Christie answers capital questions
By BBC Sport Online's Pranav Soneji
The London School of Economics Question Time Society has a reputation for attracting and interrogating big-name personalities.
Ken Livingstone, Max Clifford and Neil Hamilton are some of the more prestigious alumni who were given an inquisition worthy of the Spanish.
So when Linford Christie, Sharron Davies, John Fashanu and John McCririck stepped onto the platform, the scene was set for controversial 60 minutes covering topical subjects such as drugs and racism in sport.
And after the formalities and introductions from chairman Dominic Ponniah, the agenda was firmly set when the first question echoed out from the top tier.
"Does the panel think that all convicted drugs cheats should be banned for life, as opposed to two years and should all their achievements be nullified?"
The question was particularly poignant to Christie, who was banned by the IAAF for testing positive for the banned substance nandrolone despite protesting his innocence on numerous occasions.
And he immediately questioned the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) methods of testing athletes.
He said: "The drug that I was banned for is nandrolone.
"Studies have shown that taking zinc tablets and iron tablets can give a positive test for nandrolone."
"So therefore there is a problem."
His sentiments were reiterated by former Olympic swimmer Davies, a fiercely anti-drug campaigner.
"There is a grey area as far as testing is concerned and I think there needs to a better group of people who are independent that control testing," she said.
"If they were taking drugs and looking like the back end of a bus, we all knew it, but the IOC did very little about it.
"They chose not do anything about it at that particular time."
Christie's anger was directed towards the officials who oversee the tests who hold a tremendous amount of influence.
"They are faceless people, they are not answerable to any court of law," he added.
"Some athletes are cheats, but most are not and it is the innocent people who are caught up in the situation."
The whole debate managed to incorporate a question which asked whether Bruce Grobbelaar should be banned from coaching after the Court of Appeal stripped him of the damages won from a libel case against The Sun over match-fixing allegations.
"If you are fixing matches or doing something illegal in a game where you have to be the best through effort - you should be banned, no two ways about it," said former 'Crazy Gang' leader Fashanu.
But McCririck, in as a replacement for former England rugby union captain Will Carling, suddenly turned the tables on the audience.
He asked whether students should be banned if they are found cheating in exams.
He said: "Should a student found cheating be kicked out of the LSE, all their exam results be nullified and have their careers destroyed?"
A pertinent and thought-provoking counter which brought a flurry of headshaking and nodding.
But as the questions continued, the Channel Four racing pundit increasingly voiced his staunch Conservative rhetoric - opinions not widely appreciated by the audience.
"Sport has had £1bn from the National Lottery and where has it all gone?
"If it was gone to the kids where Linford started then fine."
"But now we have Linford coming round, cap in hand, to the rest of us asking for money for his athletes.
"That is where the system is wrong.
"If it went to the kids, went to the playing fields and the pools, then it's absolutely fine.
"But I'm very dubious when the money goes to the top."
According to Ponniah, the chair of the debate, the event was a complete success.
"John McCririck provided the entertainment, but I thought Linford Christie was very honest giving his answers," he said.
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