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?
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Extras
indybest
Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
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

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum