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Page last updated at 13:56 GMT, Thursday, 19 June 2008 14:56 UK

Angry Christie makes racism claim

Linford Christie
Christie was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1993

Former Olympic champion Linford Christie has claimed there is "institutionalised racism" in Britain.

And Christie, who won 100 metres gold at the 1992 Olympics, is adamant he should have carried the Olympic torch on its way through London in April.

"I think there's institutionalised racism in this country," Christie told BBC Radio 4. "How many black knights from British athletics do you know?

"I've achieved more single-handedly than any other sportsman in (Britain)."

Christie was banned for life by the British Olympic Association in 1999 after he failed a routine drugs test.

That test came following an indoor meet in Germany at a time when he was in semi-retirement from racing, but he has always denied intentionally taking performance-enhancing drugs.

I have nothing good to say about Sebastian Coe at all, absolutely nothing

Linford Christie
The Jamaican-born Londoner, however, had already been cleared of an earlier offence when he tested positive for pseudoephedrine at the 1988 Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee voted by an 11-10 margin to accept his explanation that the substance had come from a legal ginseng drink.

The British authorities also accepted his 1999 explanation that tainted supplements caused his positive test but the sport's governing body rejected his claim and banned him for two years.

Christie believes the doping controversy has led to him failing to get the recognition he feels he deserves.

"If you look to what we've achieved in sport all this, nandrolone [the drug he was banned for taking] and all this thing aside, how many black knights have we had in British athletics?" he told the On The Ropes programme.

"I've achieved more single-handedly, I'd say, than any other athlete or any other sportsman in this country."

Christie is the only Briton to have won 100m gold at the Olympics, Commonwealth Games, European and World Championships.

Given his record, he feels he should have been included in the group of around 80 athletes, former athletes and celebrities who carried the torch through London.

"For me, I look at track and field and what I did in the sport, it's like going to war," he said.

"I went out there and I battled against other countries and put British sprinting on the map and so therefore I don't think it's something I should want to do, I think it's something I should be asked to do."

Chirstie also fired another salvo in his long feud with Lord Coe, the chairman of London 2012's organising committee, questioning what he had done for British athletics.

"I'm still bitter about him, I cannot stand the guy and, to be honest, I wish we didn't even talk about it because I have nothing good to say about Sebastian Coe at all, absolutely nothing," said Christie.

Their bitter dispute stems from a newspaper article Coe wrote in 2001 which criticised Christie's attitude towards the sport, his suitability as a role model and his "boorish behaviour" on the track.

Coe also attacked his captaincy of the British athletics team, saying: "I sat in one team meeting when (Christie) made himself deliberately unintelligible to all but those who had a passing knowledge of jive."

Christie reacted furiously to this claim and suggested Coe's criticism had a "racial connotation".

The 48-year-old now owns Nuff Respect, a management company, and mentors and coaches young athletes.

Listen to the full interview on BBC Radio 4's On The Ropes on Sunday 22 June at 1330

see also
Christie will not be torch bearer
22 Feb 08 |  Olympics
Christie urges athletes to focus
16 Feb 08 |  Athletics
Confusion over role of Christie
07 Sep 06 |  Athletics
Coe sees Christie in Olympic role
06 Jul 06 |  Olympics 2012
Christie hits out at Olympic snub
14 Oct 05 |  Athletics
Coe and Christie clash again
08 Feb 02 |  Athletics

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