Modahl has the answer

Olympic trials: Wrongly banned 800m runner castigates federation for treatment while Christie benefits from re-run
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The Independent Online
Diane Modahl's long battle against a false allegation of drug taking and being sent home in disgrace from the Commonwealth Games ended at the AAA championships in Birmingham yesterday when she qualified for an 800 metres Olympic place. She immediately launched a bitter attack on the British Athletic Federation and their Chief Executive, Professor Peter Radford.

After finishing second to the impressive Kelly Holmes but in a good time of 1min 59.87sec, Modahl said: "This has silenced the doubters. This was my ultimate test of the last two years. Throughout the whole case the federation were the only ones who doubted me and I hold Peter Radford responsible. He witnessed all of the wrong evidence and he pressed the case. The BAF say they have no responsibility for all of the stress and trauma I have been through."

Modahl is in the process of trying to extract compensation from the BAF for her loss of earnings, possibly amounting to pounds 750,000. She says she is justified in a claim that could effectively bankrupt the BAF "because they put me in a very uncomfortable position". She maintains that she has no faith in the BAF and knew she had to finish in the first two yesterday to be sure that they would not find a reason to stop her competing in Atlanta.

She had given Holmes a tough time in the early part of yesterday's final but was unable to hold on over the last 200 metres. However, she said: "I had questioned the reason [for coming]back to athletics. There was a lot of anger, but what I have achieved has come from an awful lot of support. At times I didn't have the mental strength to run 100 metres."

If Modahl is the victim of a long controversy, Linford Christie's name is never far from one. In yesterday's 100m semi-finals, he and three other sprinters appeared to believe that they had been victims of a false start while four others did what all runners are told to do and pressed on because there had been no recall gun. Indeed, Darren Campbell won the "race" looking across in bemused disbelief that there was no sign of Christie, who had stopped and was wandering back to the start.

After a long delay it was announced that because of a "faulty" start, rather than a forced start, the semi-final would be re-run.Christie won it comfortably in 10.20 seconds but it all smacked of the year before when he was knocked out in the first of the AAA Championships but was allowed to run in the final in a ninth lane "because of public demand". Yesterday one of the athletes who slowed down immediately after the start approached the chief starter, David Aizlewood, to protest that if half the field thought something was wrong, he ought to reconsider, which he did.

Six runners, all with the Olympic qualifying standard of 45.84sec already achieved, line up for today's men's 400m. The fastest in yesterday's semi- finals was the redoubtable 30-year-old Roger Black in 45.02sec. Yet the winner today is far from assured of a medal in this summer's Olympic final.

Michael Johnson, that upright American who dominates the 400m, reckons Britain's much emphasised depth of talent in his event is baloney. The British one-lap runners say they are not prepared to face him at Crystal Palace just before the Olympics. So he says they will be running scared.

He could be right. Depth is one thing, the cream another. None of Britain's top men would want to lose by over a second to Johnson so close to the Olympics, and that would almost certainly be the margin.

Johnson's best time is 43.39sec. Britain's record, held by David Grindley (who has an Achilles injury) is 44.47sec. Yesterday, Black was up against Du'aine Ladejo and Mark Richardson in the tougher semi-final but was easing up confidently as he crossed the line looking across at Ladejo who is in danger of missing an Olympic place, because Jamie Baulch, running in the other semi-final, recorded a promising 45.22sec.

With athletes being required to compete in their first-choice events and wanting proper medical evidence for absenteeism, the trials have benefited from virtually a full muster, although Jonathan Edwards is still wrestling with a couple of injuries and one big mental block about the fact that his amazing performances last year were not only something he could not explain but could never repeat. Steve Backley, is also absent but he says he should be throwing strongly again in a fortnight, although an Achilles operation has certainly cut into his training programme.

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