Athletics: Livingston comes clean in drug case

JASON LIVINGSTON'S struggle to overturn his four-year suspension for drug abuse appeared all but over yesterday following his admission in a newspaper report that he was 'guilty' of taking a banned steroid inadvertently before the Olympic Games.

The 21-year-old sprinter, who was sent home from Barcelona when a test which had been taken before the Games showed up positive for Methandianone, was quoted in the People as saying he had been recommended to take a food supplement drink which was not on general sale by someone who 'wanted to make their mark in athletics'. Livingston said he did not think the drink contained the drug or realise the consequences, 'but I am guilty'.

Until now, Livingston, who had been planning an appeal within the next month, has consistently protested his innocence. If the report is confirmed, it is hard to see what grounds of appeal remain, as the British Athletic Federation has long maintained that ignorance is no defence in such cases.

'These revelations come as news to me,' Geoff Morphitis, the chairman of Livingston's Shaftesbury Barnet club, said. Morphitis, who has helped the sprinter prepare his defence over the past five months, added: 'If they're true, I'm disappointed that he didn't hold his hands up earlier and tell us. Maybe then we would have prepared a different course of action.

'He never told me that he was going to do a newspaper article and I just wonder where this leaves Jason and his legal advisers now as far as an appeal goes.'

Linford Christie, the man in whose shadow Livingston has laboured, interrupted his training regime in Australia to record simple victories at the Sugar Games in Adelaide.

In his first competition since the World Cup last September, Britain's 32-year-old Olympic champion won the 100 metres in 10.35sec and the 200m in 20.74, before reiterating his intention to race the former Olympic 100m champion, Carl Lewis.

'I want to sort out Carl once and for all,' Christie said. 'That's my aim for this year. Next year is my last year and that's that. I'll race him anywhere, any time.'

Colin Jackson, who has been training alongside Christie, had a convincing victory over the 60m hurdles in Saturday's Vauxhall International between Great Britain and the United States at Birmingham. Jackson recorded 7.46, just 0.05sec outside his European indoor record.

He was marginally slower in Sindelfingen, Germany, yesterday, clocking 7.51, but the win was worth possibly more as it came against a field who included Mark McCoy, Tony Dees and Greg Foster.

Steve Smith, Britain's world junior high jump champion, maintained his position as the world's leading jumper of the moment with an all-comers' record of 2.35 in Birmingham. The revelation that Smith is suffering from the beginning of stress fractures in both shins is worrying at this stage of the season, even though he maintains that doctors are monitoring the situation and that jumping does not directly affect it.

Following next week's TSB Challenge, also at Birmingham, where he hopes to jump 2.40, Smith will train solidly for two weeks in preparation for the World Indoor Championships. But if he is unable to do bounding exercises properly he may give up the idea of competing in Toronto. Given that his main ambition is to win the outdoor world title in Stuttgart this summer, such a decision may prove a blessing in disguise.