Linford Christie has been offered a lucrative deal to compete in a re-run of the infamous 1988 Olympic Games 100 metres final.
The Canadian entrepreneur, Morris Chrobotek, has promised the 1992 Olympic champion $10,000 (£5,500) a month to fund his training, plus a $150,000 appearance fee. He would get $2m for winning, $1m for second or $500,000 for third. Six others, including the Canadian Ben Johnson, who won the race but was subsequently disqualified and banned after testing positive for anabolic steroids, have signed up and are in training for the 31 July contest, but it is a non-starter without Christie and Carl Lewis, both of whom are still undecided.
But Chrobotek, Johnson's former manager, said: "It's inevitable. This race is going to happen." Insisting that Lewis, who took gold after Johnson's disqualification, will soon be on board, he said that the most likely venue is Seoul, where the original took place, although he raised the possibility of racing in Athens on 31 July, a fortnight before the Olympics start there.
Asked whether this was no more than a cynical money-making venture, Chrobotek said, "Look, it's 16 years ago. It's in the past. Hello. Wake up. There's the chance of putting out a wonderful message here. That you can come back and do it right." In a spirit of hype, Chrobotek predicted that "Three billion would watch on TV".
Christie, who was cleared over a positive test in Seoul for the stimulant ephedrine which he had ingested by drinking ginseng tea, originally turned down the Canadian, only to be swayed, apparently, by Chrobotek's persistence.
"He is considering it because it does appeal to Linford's competitive nature," Christie's manager, Sue Barrett, said. "He takes his sport very seriously and wouldn't want to do anything that ends up as a circus. It depends on how the race is going to be sold and how it will be perceived."
Barrett suggested that a condition laid down by Christie would be drug-testing. Chrobotek said Dr Wade Exum, formerly in charge of US Olympic doping control, will conduct the tests.
* The UK 3,000 metres indoor record holder, Jo Pavey, has withdrawn from the Norwich Union Great Britain four kilometre team for next weekend's IAAF World Cross Country Championships. Pavey, fifth over 3,000 metres at last weekend's World Indoor Championships, has picked up a minor injury.Reuse content