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Banned Christie says he's going to Sydney

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    Linford Christie

    Gold Coast: Linford Christie said on Sunday he would be going to Sydney after all but would be watching the athletes he coaches from the stands.

    The former Olympic 100 metres champion is in Australia to coach European 100-metre champion Darren Campbell and 400-metre runners Jamie Baulch and Katherine Merry.

    After being banned for two years in the wake of testing positive for the anabolic steroid nandrolone, Christie last month said he would not go to Sydney and would leave the athletes in the care of his own former coach, Ron Roddan.

    Christie has been coaching the trio on the Gold Coast and on Sunday attended a local meet to watch another of his charges, Irish sprinter Emily Maher.

    He has declined to speak to the British media since arriving in Australia but told a Brazilian TV crew at the meet: "I'm going to Sydney and I'll wave to you from the stands."

    "It's the athletes who are important, not me."

    And he reiterated his claim that he had not taken nandrolone, saying: "I wouldn't be here if I had."

    Christie and his athletes have been training on a coastal island away from the British team but Baulch said earlier on Sunday that it wasn't a question of hiding themselves away.

    "We went there last year and were always going to come back," he said. "It's got nothing to do with everything that's going on, it's just that it's a great place to train and we're happy there."

    Merry, who described the group as "Team Linford", said that they would not fly to Sydney until just two days before their events.

    "We've not been affected by everything that's been going on and have just stayed focused on what we need to do as individuals," she said.

    In her case that is trying to finish in front of home favourite Cathy Freeman and French holder Jose-Marie Perec.

    "I've beaten Perec this year and though Cathy will be hard to beat she's not unbeatable," she said.

    (c) Reuters Limited.

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