Christie Olympic torch invite 'a mistake'

Former sprinter Linford Christie will not take part in a relay carrying the Olympic torch through London, it was confirmed today.

Christie received a letter from London Mayor Ken Livingstone inviting him to take part in April's torch procession, but a spokesman for the Mayor said it had been sent by mistake.

The 47-year-old has a lifetime Olympic ban after testing positive for the steroid nandrolone in 1999, and international Olympic officials condemned the decision to invite him to the torch event.

The Mayor's spokesman said: "The decision to invite Linford Christie to be a torchbearer was not taken by the Mayor.

"The decision to invite Linford Christie was taken by officials and was a mistake."

Christie, who won gold in the 100m at the 1992 Barcelona games and has always denied taking the banned drug, was sent the letter "as a formality", the spokesman said.

Yesterday Emmanuelle Moreau, from the International Olympic Committee, said: "We would have certainly strongly recommended not to give an invitation to an athlete who has an Olympic ban."

The Olympic torch is being taken around the world during the build-up to this summer's Beijing games, and is in London for one day when it will be carried from Wembley to the O2 Arena. Each of the 80 runners in London will carry the torch for 250 metres.

So far, double Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes and Sir Trevor McDonald, the newsreader, have been confirmed as torchbearers.

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