Athletics: Confusion reigns over Christie role

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The Independent Online

The UK Athletics chief Dave Collins said last night that Linford Christie would not now act as a mentor to the country's rising stars. UKA unveiled Christie in August as one of four "mentors". But the move caused concern, with Paula Radcliffe claiming that the former Olympic champion, who failed a drugs test in 1999, was unsuitable for the role.

Now the UKA head Collins appears to have backtracked, saying last night: "Linford as a mentor to young athletes? No, that's not what he's doing."

UKA announced last month that Christie would be taking on a high-profile position with the organisation. It issued a statement headlined: "Daley Thompson, Linford Christie, Steve Backley and Katharine Merry to mentor athletes on path to glory."

But Collins now insists that the 46-year-old Christie, who won gold at the Barcelona Games in 1992, was never meant to have such a position. "Linford is there in a technical coaching role, extending the very good work he has been doing [since] before the Sydney Olympics," Collins said.

"He will be based at one of our high-performance athletic centres. He will be working with a fellow coach and a group of athletes." Yet Collins did nothing to dispel the confusion by adding that Christie would be providing both "coaching and mentorship".