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Tuesday, 6 November, 2001, 14:18 GMT
Engquist's fall from grace
Ludmila Engquist in Atlanta in 1996
Glory days: Engquist (right) grabs Olympic gold in 1996
BBC Sport Online looks at the controversial career of drug-shamed athlete Ludmila Engquist.

Life has been at an all-time low for Ludmila Engquist since she admitted at the weekend to taking banned steroids.

The Russian born former 100m hurdles champion had been due to compete as a bobsledder in the 2002 Winter Olympics, but realised that she had failed a drugs test during Swedish team trials in Lillehammer.

Now she faces public shame in the sporting world and in her adopted nation Sweden, where she was once a folk hero.

It has ended her hopes of reinventing herself as a Winter Olympian and irreversibly damaged the credibility of her past achievements.

  Engquist factfile
1964: Born in Tambovskaya Oblast, Russia
1986: Clocks a time of 13.41 seconds in Bryansk
1991: Clinches gold at the World Championships in Tokyo
1992: Runs a personal best of 12.26 in Seville
1993: Receives four-year ban for doping
1995: Drug ban overturned
1996: Becomes a Swedish citizen before winning Olympic gold in Atlanta
1997: Wins world title in Athens
1998:Takes up bobsledding
1999: Has a cancerous lump removed from her breast and comes third in the World Athletics championships in Seville
2001: Finishes seventh in a World Cup bobsled race in Utah
Her problems are far from over, with Swedish customs raiding her house on Monday and her sponsors likely to seek to recoup the money they invested in her.

It is hardly surprising that Engquist is having a hard time dealing with the consequences of her actions.

She said this week that she had tried to commit suicide when she realised her failed drug test would become public knowledge.

"I wanted to flee. I flew to Spain and didn't tell anyone where I was going," she said.

"It was as if my life was over. Johan (her husband) discovered where I was.

"He is totally innocent. He did not know what I was doing.

"I wanted to die and I tried to commit suicide and swallowed a bottle of painkillers. However, I was found before it was too late and they pumped my stomach out."

This may be an all-time low point in the Engquist's career, but it is not the first time she has courted controversy.

Engquist, born in Tambovskaya Oblast 37 years ago, became a major force in women's hurdles in the 1990s.

She won world titles in the 100m event for Russia in 1991 and, under the Swedish banner in 1997.

Engquist, a mother at 18, also took the gold medal at the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996, the same year she became a Swede.

Ludmila Engquist
Engquist won the world title for the second time in 1997
But her name had already been tainted with drugs when, in February 1993, she received a four-year ban for failing a test for steroids.

She always maintained that her vitamin supplement had been spiked by her previous husband and the ban was eventually lifted by the Russian courts.

The International Association of Athletics Federations reinstated her in December 1995 under its exceptional-circumstances rule.

Engquist took up the bobsledding in 1998 after hearing that sprinters make brakemen because of the need for a good push-start.

But she had to overcome one of life's hurdles the following year when she had surgery to remove one of her breasts after being diagnosed with cancer.

Four months later, Engquist was already back in action, grabbing third at the 1999 World Athletics Championships in Seville, Spain.

She quit athletics for good the following year and concentrated on her bobsledding.

She finished seventh as a bobsled rookie with Swedish team-mate Karin Olsson in a World Cup race on Utah's Olympic Park track in February.

But her recent drug shame means that her Winter Olympic career is over before it could really get going.

See also:

05 Nov 01 |  Athletics
Engquist under fire
04 Nov 01 |  Other Sports
Engquist admits drug use
24 Oct 01 |  Athletics
Drummond arrested on drug charge
27 Oct 01 |  Other Sports
IOC chief calls on 'clean' athletes
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