Danger man Crawford is happy to be beastly to the hosts

Shawn Crawford likes to be known as "the Cheetah man". Given the doping scandal which has clouded US sprinting in the run-up to the Athens Olympics, it is perhaps not the best nom de plume for the American who leads the world rankings at 100m and 200m - especially when the dark clouds have been drifting uncomfortably close to home for the 26-year-old Carolina man.

Crawford adopted the nickname in January last year when he raced a giraffe and a zebra in a "Man versus Beast" show on Fox Television. He beat the giraffe but then lost to the zebra. His muscles having tightened while being kept waiting around for 12 hours by the television crew at a track in University City, California, Crawford insists he could win a rematch. "Tell the zebra I coulda whopped him."

It is Crawford who is the two-legged opponent most likely to whop the home hero when the track-and-field programme gets under way in the Athens Olympics. Konstantinos Kenteris has won the last three major championship 200m competitions he has contested and is unbeaten since 2001. His best time this year, though, is 20.24sec. Crawford has run 19.88, 19.99 and 20.00. He is also the world's fastest man this year at 100m, having clocked a scorching 9.88 while beating Maurice Greene in the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene in June.

Crawford boasted a high-class pedigree prior to 2004 - with a world indoor 200m title and a World Championships 200m bronze medal from 2001 - but he has stepped up a significant gear since moving to Raleigh, North Carolina, last November to work with Trevor Graham, the sprint coach who has emerged as a pivotal figure in the US doping affair.

In a memo leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle two weeks ago, Graham admitted to Inland Revenue Service agents he was the "mystery" coach who launched the investiga-tion into the activities of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative by sending a syringe containing the as-yet unknown and undetectable "designer" steroid tetrahydrogestrinone to the US Anti-Doping Agency.

According to an interview given by C J Hunter to the IRS, and to testimony given by Tim Montgomery to a federal grand jury hearing, Graham was also responsible for supplying illegal performance-enhancing drugs to his training group, which formerly included both Jones and Montgomery - an accusation the Jamaican and his lawyer strenuously rebut.

The claims have coincided with the emergence of Crawford as the major player on the world sprinting stage, under the guidance of Graham. "All that was pre-Shawn Crawford," the sprinter's agent, Kimberley Trammell, insisted. "We don't want anything to do with what's happening right now. We don't want to get caught in this crazy media frenzy. Trevor prepares Shawn to train. Everything else is irrelevant."

Graham has been preparing Crawford for Athens away from the spotlight of the European circuit since the US trials. Crawford finished third in a close-run 100m final at the trials in Sacramento, recovering from a poor start to clock 9.93sec behind Maurice Greene (9.91) and Justin Gatlin (9.92), another member of Graham's Raleigh sprinting stable. He won the 200m final in 19.99, ahead of Gatlin (20.01) and Bernard Williams (20.30).

At the Weltklasse meeting in Zurich on Friday night Williams won the 200m in 20.13. When he is not working on the training track or racing in competition, the 26-year-old can be found performing in clubs as a stand-up comedian. His stage name is Hollywood Williams.

Crawford is a bit of a joker himself, as his race against the giraffe and the zebra might suggest. Back in 2002, he went to a party and came across a Phantom of the Opera mask. He took it to a Grand Prix meeting in Milan and decided to wear it while he was contesting the 200m, whipping it out of his bag and pulling it over his face at the last minute so the trackside judges would not spot it.

The trouble was it slipped down his face while he rounded the bend and he could not see where he was running. He veered out of his lane and got disqualified. It was an inadvertent transgression of the rulebooks rather than the act of a blatant cheater.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
life
News
news

The party's potential nominations read like a high school race for student body president

Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballI have never seen the point of lambasting the fourth official, writes Paul Scholes
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee