THE NEWS that Linford Christie had failed two drug tests hit Britain like a hammer blow last night. Our greatest Olympic athlete, our symbol of purity in a sport riddled with sleaze, our Linford - reduced to protesting his innocence against the most serious professional charge he could ever face. Did he do it? Did Linford take illegal substances to boost his performance? We desperately hope the answer is no?
TO THIS day, that moment in Canada [when Modahl was informed that she had failed a drugs test in Portugal] is still with me - and this week, with Linford Christie having to face a similar problem, I feel sad. My husband Vicente knows that when accusations such as these are made, I can disappear into a trance, reliving my own nightmare. But my thoughts are now very much with Linford as I know what he is going through. We know he is innocent and that there would be no point in him taking anything, especially as his athletic career is all but over. (Diane Modahl)
LINFORD CHRISTIE has always been an outspoken critic of the druggies who shame track and field athletics. Never one to mince his words, he has maintained throughout his career that they should be banned for life. And that is why the country has been left reeling in shock at the news that this hero to so many has suddenly failed a dope test himself. I find it inexplicable that this true track great, with all his vast experience, should be humiliated in such a way. (Colin Hart)
ONLY IN the century's last quarter has drugs testing of any presumed reliability at all been carried on. It makes one wonder with what substances all the heroes and heroines who speckle the rest of the cen- tury's record books might have been "supplementing" their diets? However, in the world of athletics generally, the truth is that the athlete's Faustian pact has gone so far that there is surely a serious case now, not for banning drugs but for banning the tests. Let the guy with the best chemist win - and if he drops dead at the tape, then so be it. (Frank Keating)
TOP ATHLETES must endure the grotesque moralising of modern sports journalism, which is more concerned with bogus character judgements than reports of on-field skill. If a British team loses, look out for the headline "HUMILIATION". "Defeat" is never enough by itself: it is always "crushing" or "abject". An England batting collapse is attributed to lack of courage, rather than a simple human failure of the eye to follow a devilishly spun ball. It is stupid to take drugs. But would sports stars need to resort to such potions if the backpage and Radio Five Live did not shriek in quite such an unpleasant manner whenever a Brit loses. (Quentin Letts).
LINFORD CHRISTIE'S positive drug test in the twilight of a career of rare distinction is a tragedy for him and for British athletics, but likely to be an even bigger disaster for those who want top sport drug-free. Christie will almost certainly be cleared, not least because of the problems of differentiating between doping and naturally occurring nandrolone, but the stain will remain, just as it has with Dougie Walker. Walker could not explain why the drug was in his system, neither could the scientists who tested him, and he got off. But is this sort of bizarre score-draw really a satisfactory way of dealing with such a vital matter? I hardly think so. (David Mellor)Reuse content