London, Feb 23: Linford Christie will not carry the Beijing Olympic torch when it passes through London in April.
The Greater London Authority, who have organised the torch relay on April 6, denied reports that Christie had been invited by London mayor Ken Livingstone to be one of 80 torch relay runners. "Linford Christie has made it clear he will not be participating in the torch relay," a GLA spokesperson said. "Inaccurate reports have appeared claiming that the mayor invited Linford Christie to participate in the torch relay.
"The decision to invite Linford Christie to be a torchbearer was not taken by the mayor. The mayor only had the right to nominate five torchbearers and Linford Christie was not one of them."
However, a spokesman for Nuff Respect, a sports marketing agency established by Christie in 1992, said earlier that he had been asked to join the relay.
"Linford has been invited to take part and will do depending on his schedule because he may be away warm weather training," the spokesman said. But the British Olympic Association chairman Colin Moynihan, who sits on the Olympic Board for the 2012 Games in London, said he was strongly opposed to Christie carrying the torch.
"I made it crystal clear that no one convicted of a drugs offence and banned for life under our bylaw should run with the Olympic flame," Moynihan said. "I could not feel more strongly on the subject."
Shadow sports minister Hugh Robertson had also called for Livingstone to withdraw his supposed invitation to Christie. "It is utterly perverse of the mayor to select someone banned from the Olympic Games for drug offences to act as a standard bearer for the London Olympic torch relay," he said.
"It sends out totally the wrong message to young people about drug cheats and to the world in general about the values that will underpin London 2012. I urge the Olympics minister and the Olympic board, as a matter of urgency, to tell the mayor to cancel this utterly ill-conceived invitation."
The torch makes its way across five continents on a 130-day journey after being lit in Olympia on March 25. The London leg will last a day, starting out at Wembley and ending at the 02 Arena in Greenwich. Each of the 80 runners will complete 250 metres of the route.
It has been organised by the Greater London Authority, who have officially confirmed only three of the 80 names: Dame Kelly Holmes, Britain's double Olympic gold medallist, newscaster Sir Trevor McDonald and actress Amara Khan.
None of the others, though, would have been as controversial as Christie. The only Englishman to win the 100m at Olympic, world, Commonwealth and European level was found guilty of using the anabolic steroid nandrolone at an indoor meeting in Dortmund, Germany, in February 1999, two years after he had retired.
Christie had made a comeback as a 'bet' to his young training partners that he could still find his old speed. He was 100 times over the limit when he tested positive and was banned from competing for two years and given a lifetime suspension by the BOA from the Olympics.
He denied any wrongdoing and claimed the substance may have been accidentally introduced to his system by taking nutritional supplements. The 47-year-old is banned from representing Britain as an official coach following his drugs offence, seven years after being crowned the Olympic 100m champion in Barcelona.
Although he remains a coach - in Sydney in 2000 he guided Darren Campbell to the 200m silver medal and Katharine Merry to 400m bronze - he is not given official accreditation and has to watch events from the stands.
Despite that, Christie is planning to be in Beijing to coach Christian Malcolm in the 200m. However, the BOA has no plans to remove its ban on Olympic accreditation for Christie: he will not be permitted access to the Olympic Villages or the trackside in Beijing or London in 2012.
It now seems that he will not be carrying the Olympic torch either.