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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 February 2008, 09:25 GMT
Christie urges athletes to focus
Linford Christie
Linford Christie won 100m sprint gold at the Barcelona Olympics
Former sprinter Linford Christie has urged British Olympians to ignore politics and focus on performance ahead of the 2008 Beijing Games.

China's staging of the Games is becoming increasingly politicised because of its human rights record and foreign policy in places such as Sudan.

But Christie says personal feelings should be kept to one side.

"Sometimes people try to get politics and athletics entwined and they shouldn't," said 47-year-old Christie.

"It's always like that. People try and drag sport into certain things and there's nothing we can do about that.

"The athletes are going out there and performing and that's all they should do."

Sometimes we are a little bit hypocritical, I mean we all use Chinese products here

Linford Christie

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.

He added: "The athletes get one chance in four years to go out and compete. Sometimes we are a little bit hypocritical, I mean we all use Chinese products here."

This week Hollywood film director Steven Spielberg quit as the Games' artistic advisor because of China's policies in the Darfur region of west Sudan.

And there was more controversy when the British Olympic Association (BOA) insisted competitors must sign contracts which would have prohibited political demonstrations or propaganda.

However, the BOA has said it will now look again at the wording of the draft agreement.


British badminton player Richard Vaughan, a former Olympian, insists athletes should be allowed to express their views.

"In my mind, China has an indifferent political record internationally, be it in Darfur, Burma, or many other nations in Africa they do business with," he told BBC Sport.

"This, mixed with human rights issues within China itself, and the lack of a free press, means there are always going to be issues with the decision to stage the Olympics in Beijing.

"I believe free speech is very important for everyone. If athletes feel strongly about a humanitarian topic, they have the right to comment on it, as does any member of the public."

Everyone is thinking medals, but it's (Beijing) not really about medals

Linford Christie

Some British athletes have been drawn into another off-the-track debate after shamed sprinter Dwain Chambers won selection to the World Indoor Championships next month.

Chambers, 29, is back competing again after serving a two-year ban for taking the performance-enhancing drug THG and his inclusion in the British team sparked widespread controversy.

Christie is planning to be in Beijing in his role as coach to 200m specialist Christian Malcolm and believes that British hopes should not be written off, though he warned against applying too much pressure in the quest for medals.

"I think we've got a very good chance. Everyone is thinking medals, but it's not really about medals," said Christie, who was banned for two years in 1999 after testing positive for banned steroid nandrolone.

"It's about youngsters coming through, getting an opportunity and a chance to see what the pressure is going to be like at a major championship."

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