Linford Christie

Last updated

Linford Christie
Linford Christie 2009.png
Linford Christie in 2009
Personal information
Nationality British
Born (1960-04-02) 2 April 1960 (age 61)
Saint Andrew, Jamaica
Height6 ft 2 in (188 cm) [1]
Updated on 20 July 2012.

Linford Cicero Christie OBE (born 2 April 1960) is a Jamaican-born British former sprinter. He is the only British man to have won gold medals in the 100 metres at all four major competitions open to British athletes: the Olympic Games, the World Championships, the European Championships and the Commonwealth Games. He was the first European athlete to break the 10-second barrier in the 100 m and still holds the British record in the event. He is a former world indoor record holder over 200 metres, and a former European record holder in the 60 metres, 100 m and 4 × 100 metres relay.


He remains one of the most highly decorated British athletes of all-time. By the end of his track career Christie had won 24 medals overall, more than any other British male athlete before or since. In 1993 he was awarded the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

Early life and education

Christie was born in Saint Andrew, Jamaica, where he was brought up by his maternal grandmother. At the age of seven he joined his parents, who had emigrated to Acton, London, England, five years before. He was educated at Henry Compton Secondary School in Fulham, London and excelled in physical education. He competed in the very first London Youth Games in 1977 for the borough of Hammersmith & Fulham. [2] He also joined the Air Training Corps in 1978, 336 (Hammersmith) Squadron. He did not take up athletics seriously until he was 18.

Professional athletics career

Christie's early track career was not particularly promising. A comparatively slow starter, he failed to make the Great Britain team for the 1984 Summer Olympics, not even being included in the sprint relay squad. It was not until some years after he had begun to work in earnest on his running technique under the coaching guidance of Ron Roddan in 1979 that he fulfilled his potential.

In 1986, he was the surprise winner of the 100 m at the European Championships and finished second in the same event at the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, behind Ben Johnson. At the 1987 World Championships in Athletics in Rome, Christie came fourth in the 100 m, but was later awarded the bronze medal, when winner Johnson was disqualified after admitting years of steroid use.

At the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, Christie won the 100 m silver behind Carl Lewis after Johnson, who set a world record in 9.79 seconds, was again disqualified following a positive drug test. Christie's time was 9.97 seconds, a new European record by 0.03 seconds and this was only the third time that an athlete had broken the ten second barrier in the 100 metres without winning the race. His British record of 9.87 still stands as of 2021.

In 1992, Christie became the third British athlete to win the Olympic 100 m, after Harold Abrahams and Allan Wells, winning the title ahead of Frankie Fredericks of Namibia at the Barcelona Olympic Games. In the absence of his great rival Lewis, Christie ran 9.96 s in the final, and at the age of 32 years 121 days became the oldest Olympic 100 m champion by four years and 38 days.

In 1993, he became the first man in history to hold the Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth titles in the 100 m as he was victorious at the Stuttgart World Championships in his fastest ever time of 9.87. [3] That year he was also voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year by the British public. The following year, in 1994, he defended his Commonwealth title in Victoria in his second fastest ever 100 m time of 9.91. [3]

Defending his Olympic title in 1996, Christie was disqualified in the final after two false starts. He said: "The first one I knew I did, but on the second one I felt I reacted perfectly to the gun. I have never been disqualified from a race before in my life. What a place to do it." [4] His reaction time was 0.086 seconds. Under IAAF rules, sprinters are not allowed to start from their blocks faster than 0.1 seconds.

Christie retired from representative international competition in 1997, [5] although he continued to make appearances at invitation meetings.

Doping allegations and ban

Early allegations

Christie faced an International Olympic Committee disciplinary hearing at the 1988 Seoul Olympics because of an adverse drug test for the banned stimulant pseudoephedrine after he ran in the heats of the 200m. He escaped sanction after the committee voted by a margin of 11 to 10 and gave Christie "the benefit of the doubt." [6] [7] Christie argued that he had taken it inadvertently when drinking some ginseng tea.

At the 1994 European championships staged in Helsinki, where British team captain Christie won his third European 100 m title, he was caught up in a doping controversy after Solomon Wariso, a 400 m runner making his international championship debut, tested positive for the stimulant ephedrine. Wariso revealed that he had used an over-the-counter pick-you-up called "Up Your Gas", which Christie had bought at a Florida pharmacy. [8]

In 1998, less than six months before his first positive drug test, Christie won a libel action against the journalist John McVicar. McVicar had insinuated in a satirical magazine that Christie's remarkable rise from 156th in the world to triumph at an age when he should have been in decline could only have been achieved through performance-enhancing drugs. The jury found in Christie's favour by a 10–2 majority. The judge ordered that McVicar should be bound by an injunction restraining him from accusing Christie of taking banned substances. The modest £40,000 damages awarded were outweighed by the legal costs that Christie incurred to bring the case. After the judgment, McVicar called Christie "The Judy Garland of the 100 metres", referring to the emotion that Christie had displayed before the court. [9]

Positive drugs test and ban from athletics

In February 1999, Christie competed in an indoor meet in Dortmund, Germany. A routine unannounced drug test found the banned substance nandrolone. After a six-month delay, a disciplinary hearing was convened by the British Athletic Federation which found Christie to be not guilty. But the IAAF overruled and confirmed a two-year suspension. He was found to have more than 100 times normal levels of the metabolites of nandrolone in his urine. Various explanations were offered to explain the results, including eating avocado, or using nutritional supplements. [10] [11] [12] The IAAF rejected that explanation and gave Christie a two-years ban from athletics, despite UK Athletics feeling that there was reasonable doubt whether the drug had been taken deliberately, a decision which ignored the usual drug testing principle of "strict liability". [13]

Several alternative theories have been proposed that might explain Christie's positive test. By way of context, Nandrolone is a long-acting anabolic steroid, and is well-known in athlete circles to be detectable in blood and urine screenings for long periods; ranging from 6 to 18 months. [14] Skeptics of Christie's positive, and other Nandrolone sanctions in the late 1990s, have cited this detection window as a major deterrent to using the drug at any point during training or competition periods. Around this time pro-hormones like 19-norandrostenedione, Androstenedione, and 1-Testosterone, among others, abounded in the American supplement market, and were not yet codified as 'anabolic agents' under the Federal Controlled Substances Act. [15] Given that Christie tested positive for Nandrolone, it is conceivable that he had been taking 19-norandrostenedione, a metabolic precursor to Nandrolone (this was sold over-the-counter in the United States until 2004). At the time Christie had been training in Florida in the winter months, and may have been using the prohormone without knowing it could produce a positive test.

Alternatively, Christie may have been under the impression he was administering a different anabolic steroid with a narrower testing window. Substances like Masteron and Primobolan are esterified in oil similar to Nandrolone, and would be indistinguishable if mislabeled. [16] [17]

Christie has always denied any wrongdoing. "If I took drugs there had to be a reason to take drugs. I had pretty much retired from the sport." Furthermore, he denied that his physique was gained through drug use and promoted an anti-steroid approach: "It does not follow that all athletes who are big take drugs ... Only by testing all athletes will the sport be kept clean of drugs." [18]

Fallout following positive drugs test

Following his positive drugs test and ban from athletics, Christie was banned for life from the British Olympic Association, who announced that Christie would not be accredited for any future Olympic Games, in accordance with their regulations.

Following the positive drugs test, the IAAF prohibited Christie from attending the Olympic Games in Sydney as a member of the BBC commentating team. [19]

The ban also resulted in Puma opting not to continue Christie's £100,000 sponsorship contract. [20]


Following the two-year ban, Christie worked as a presenter on the BBC programmes Record Breakers and Garden Invaders, and also had a contract with BBC Sport. He has spent less time as a public figure and has devoted most of his time to managing his company. [21] In 1990 he made his acting debut in the BBC programme Grange Hill . [22] Later he appeared in another BBC programme Hustle . In 2010, Christie appeared on the UK ITV television channel's I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! show, subsequently becoming the sixth person to be eliminated, on 30 November 2010.

During the McVicar case, Christie raised another of his grievances with the media – insinuating comments about the figure-hugging running suits that Christie wore in his races. The term Linford's lunchbox had been coined by The Sun newspaper in reference to the noticeable bulge of Christie's genitalia in his Lycra shorts. He said "Linford's lunchbox is one of my grievances with the media. I don't like it ... Nobody ever goes on about Sally Gunnell's breasts ... I think it is disgusting, I don't like it at all." [23] In court, the judge Mr Justice Popplewell, amused some by tactlessly asking Christie to explain the phrase, asking "What is 'Linford's lunchbox?'" [24] The reference to his genital bulge became a part of pop culture at the time, as evidenced in a joke by Nick Hancock: "There's nothing new you can say about Linford Christie, except he's slow and has got a small penis".

Christie's anger at this unwanted attention led to his infamous "newspaper print" running suit, although he has deliberately drawn attention to his body on occasions: he has remarked that "A lot of people have looked at my physique and two things can come into their mind – admiration and envy." [18] He also appeared shirtless and flexing his muscles on the BBC youth series Reportage in 1988. In recent years, however, Christie appears to have come to terms with the 'lunchbox' label, disclosing his preference for briefs rather than boxer shorts, and in 2002 becoming the "face" of Sloggi, the men's underwear brand, posing for advertising wearing only underwear. [25] [26]

In the successful British bid for the 2012 Olympic Games, Christie was absent from the team, even though he has stated that he attempted to get involved. Christie has cited an ongoing feud between himself and former teammate Sebastian Coe, who led the bid committee, as a likely reason for the snub, [27] [28] [29] Commenting on the argument, Christie's teammate, Derek Redmond, said he was "a well-balanced athlete; he has a chip on both shoulders." [30]

However, in April 2006, it was announced that Christie would be a senior mentor for athletes on the national team, along with former athletes Steve Backley, Daley Thompson and Katharine Merry. [31] This proved controversial however, due to Christie's 2 year drugs ban in February 1997. "I don't think he should be in that mentor role," said Paula Radcliffe, the former women's marathon world record-holder. "We have to make sure that the people in that mentor role have an integrity and strong sense of ethics and morals." [32]

The BOA has confirmed that their ban on Olympic accreditation for Christie remains in place. [30] Christie claims that he was invited by London Mayor Ken Livingstone to be one of the carriers of the 2008 Olympic Torch on its journey through London, however Livingstone denies that he invited Christie to undertake this role. [33] The IOC reacted angrily to any suggestion that "an athlete who has an Olympic ban" could have been invited to carry the Olympic torch. [33]

In 2011, Christie was convicted of careless driving, after his vehicle crashed head-on into a taxi on 8 May 2010 due to driving on the wrong side of the A413 road in Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire. [34] Four people, including a newly-wed couple, were hurt. [34]

Achievements and legacy

Reflecting upon his track career, he stated: "I will have no complaints if people remember me as one of the best athletes in the world." [23] He remains the British record-holder at 100 m, with the 9.87 s he ran at the 1993 World Championships. [35] He was the third Briton, after Harold Abrahams and Allan Wells, and the fifth European to win the 100 m at the Olympic Games. He remains the oldest male athlete to win the 100 metres at the Olympics at the age of 32. [35]

As of 2019, Christie's British record of 9.87 seconds in the 100 metres makes him the third fastest European in history; after Francis Obikwelu's 9.86 s personal best which broke Christie's European record, and the same time achieved by French sprinter Jimmy Vicaut. [36] His 100 m personal best fares favourably in comparison with his contemporaries: Carl Lewis and Frankie Fredericks managed 9.86 s while Leroy Burrell ran 9.85 s. [36] Christie broke the ten-second barrier nine times, and was the first European to break the ten-second barrier. In the 1988 100 metres Olympic final, he became the first man to break the ten-second barrier and not win the race. In the 1991 World Championships 100 m final, he became the first man to break the ten-second barrier and come fourth, running 9.92 seconds.

In the 4 × 100 m relay event Christie's performance as anchor, alongside Colin Jackson, Tony Jarrett and John Regis, set a European record of 37.77 s at the 1993 World Championships. This was beaten six years later by a 37.73 s run by a British team, which included his protégé Darren Campbell. [37] However, Christie's team's performance is still the second fastest 4 x 100 m performance by a European team and one of the best by a non-United States relay team. [38]

Over 60m, Christie set a European record of 6.47 s in 1995 which was beaten by fellow Briton Jason Gardener in 1999 with 6.46 s. Christie has the fourth fastest time over the distance for a European after Gardener, Ronald Pognon [39] and the current European record holder Dwain Chambers.

Christie also holds 3 current 35–39 masters age group world records. On 23 September 1995, Christie set a M35 world record of 9.97 in the 100 m which no longer stands. On 25 June 1995 he set the current M35 world record in the 200 m in 20.11 seconds and on 3 January 1997 Christie set the current indoor record in the M35 60 m in a time of 6.51 seconds.

Christie broke the world indoor record over 200 m with 20.25 s at Liévin in 1995, and remains the seventh fastest sprinter on the all-time list. [40]

B of the Bang: a sculpture named after a Christie quotation B of the Bang (landscape).jpg
B of the Bang: a sculpture named after a Christie quotation

He was appointed MBE in 1990 and OBE in 1998. [35] In 1993, the West London Stadium, where he spent much time training, was renamed the Linford Christie Stadium in his honour. Christie's claim that he started races on the "B of the Bang" inspired a large public sculpture of the same name. Erected as a celebration of the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, it was officially unveiled by Christie in 2004. Owing to safety concerns, it was dismantled in 2009. In 2010, he was inducted into the England Athletics Hall of Fame, and in 2009, he was inducted into the London Youth Games Hall of Fame.


Personal bests

EventTime (seconds)DateVenueNotes
60 metres 6.4719 February 1995 Liévin, France
100 metres 9.8715 August 1993 Stuttgart, Germany NR [41]
150 metres 14.97 [42] 4 September 1994 Sheffield, United Kingdom
200 metres 20.0928 September 1988 Seoul, South Korea
300 metres 33.8021 June 1988 Oslo, Norway
400 metres 47.751991?
Long jump 6.67 m21 August 1996 London, United Kingdom

Seasonal bests

International competitions

1985 European Indoor Championships Athens, Greece2nd (h1) 200 m 21.50
1986 European Indoor Championships Madrid, Spain1st 200 m 21.10
Commonwealth Games Edinburgh, United Kingdom2nd 100 m 10.28
200 m DNS
European Championships Stuttgart, Germany1st 100 m 10.15
5th (sf2) 200 m 20.69
3rd 4 × 100 m relay 38.71
1987 European Cup Prague, Czechoslovakia1st100 m10.23
1st200 m20.63
World Championships Rome, Italy3rd 100 m 10.14
200 m DNS
1988 European Indoor Championships Budapest, Hungary1st 60 m 6.57
3rd 200 m 20.83
Olympic Games Seoul, South Korea2nd 100 m 9.97 AR
4th 200 m 20.09 NR
2nd 4 × 100 m relay 38.28
1989 European Cup Gateshead, United Kingdom1st100 m10.33
1st4 × 100 m relay38.39
World Cup Barcelona, Spain1st 100 m 10.10
2nd 4 × 100 m relay 38.34
1990 Commonwealth Games Auckland, New Zealand1st 100 m 9.93
1st 4 × 100 m relay 38.67
European Indoor Championships Glasgow, United Kingdom1st 60 m 6.56
European Championships Split, Yugoslavia1st 100 m 10.00
3rd 200 m 20.33
2nd 4 × 100 m relay 37.98 NR
1991 World Indoor Championships Seville, Spain2nd 60 m 6.55
2nd 200 m 20.72
European Cup Frankfurt, Germany1st100 m10.18
World Championships Tokyo, Japan4th 100 m 9.92 AR
6th (sf1) 200 m 20.62
3rd 4 × 100 m relay 38.09
1992 Olympic Games Barcelona, Spain1st 100 m 9.96
5th (sf1) 200 m 20.38
4th 4 × 100 m relay 38.08
World Cup Havana, Cuba1st 100 m 10.21
2nd 200 m 20.72
1993 European Cup Rome, Italy1st100 m10.22
1st4 × 100 m relay38.53
World Championships Stuttgart, Germany1st 100 m 9.87 NR
200 m DNS
2nd 4 × 100 m relay 37.77 NR
1994 European Cup Birmingham, United Kingdom1st100 m10.21
1st200 m20.67
1st4 × 100 m relay38.72
European Championships Helsinki, Finland1st 100 m 10.14
4 × 100 m relay DNF
Commonwealth Games Victoria, Canada1st 100 m 9.91 GR
World Cup London, United Kingdom1st 100 m 10.21
1st 4 × 100 m relay 38.46
1995 European Cup Villeneuve-d'Ascq, France1st100 m10.05 CR
1st200 m20.11 CR
1st4 × 100 m relay38.73
World Championships Gothenburg, Sweden6th 100 m 10.12
1996 European Cup Madrid, Spain1st100 m10.04 CR
1st200 m20.25 w
3rd4 × 100 m relay38.67
Olympic Games Atlanta, United States 100 m DQ
4th (qf5) 200 m 20.59
1997 European Cup Munich, Germany1st100 m10.04
1st200 m20.56

National titles

Circuit wins

100 metres
200 metres
60 metres


Personal life and family

Linford Christie has eight children. His niece Rachel Christie was crowned Miss England in 2009 though later relinquished the title following allegations of assault. [47] His godson Omari Patrick is a professional footballer. [48] His nephew Joshua R Christie represented Jamaica Rugby Team in the 7s tournament in Hong Kong 2018, scoring a try. Joshua also appeared on a reality show, Shipwrecked , in 2019. His son Liam Oliver-Christie was convicted of drugs supply offences in 2018.

In 1993 Christie formed a sports management and promotions company, Nuff Respect, with sprint-hurdler Colin Jackson. One of their early products was a sports training and workout video, The S Plan: Get Fit with Christie and Jackson. Jackson was later to leave the enterprise, saying "Linford has to be in control, he has to be number one, he has to be the leader." [49]

See also


  1. "Linford Christie". British Olympic Association . Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  2. Hall of Fame Archived 16 September 2018 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 2013-02-19
  3. 1 2 "Power of 10: Linford Christie" . Retrieved 3 March 2018.
  4. "Christie self-destructs in defence of his title". 29 July 1996.
  5. Christie: Legend under fire BBC Sport (4 August 1999) Retrieved on 2009-01-20
  6. "And what, inquired M'Lud, is Linford's lunch box?". 19 June 1998.
  7. Christie takes the stand BBC Sport (21 November 2000) Retrieved on 2009-01-20
  8. Knight, Tom (22 August 2000). "Shadow over Christie's reputation". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  9. Thackray, Rachelle (28 June 1998). What the papers said Archived 21 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine The Independent ; Retrieved on 2009-01-20
  10. Professor Ron Maughan, University of Aberdeen. Contamination of supplements: an interview with professor Ron Maughan by Louise M. Burke PubMed Retrieved 2009-01-20
  11. Moorcroft backs medical research BBC Sport (2 August 2000) Retrieved on 2009-01-20
  12. Tseng, Y. L.; Kuo, F. H.; Sun, K. H. (2005). "Quantification and profiling of 19-norandrosterone and 19-noretiocholanolone in human urine after consumption of a nutritional supplement and norsteroids". Journal of Analytical Toxicology. 29 (2): 124–134. doi:10.1093/jat/29.2.124. PMID   15902981.
  13. British trio rocked by doping bans BBC Sport (21 August 2000) Retrieved on 2009-01-20
  14. Ayotte, C. (2006). "Significance of 19‐norandrosterone in athletes' urine samples". British Journal of Sports Medicine. 40 (Suppl 1): i25–i29. doi:10.1136/bjsm.2006.028027. PMC   2657496 . PMID   16799098.
  15. Brown, G.A.; Vukovich, M.; King, D.S. (2006). "Testosterone prohormone supplements". Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Medical Science of Sport and Exercise. 38 (8): 1451–61. doi:10.1249/01.mss.0000228928.69512.2e. PMID   16888459.
  16. "Masteron". Evolutionary.Org. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  18. 1 2 L. Christie & J. Nicholson, A Year in the Life of Linford Christie (1996)
  19. "BBC drops Linford Christie after drugs ban is confirmed". The Independent. 22 August 2000. Retrieved 5 July 2020.
  20. Olympics Photo gallery (25 July 1996) Retrieved 2009-01-20
  21. Record Breakers at IMDB
  22. Grange Hill at IMDB
  23. 1 2 L. Christie & T. Ward, Linford Christie: An Autobiography (1990, updated 1996 as To Be Honest With You)
  24. Oborne, Peter. "Laughter as judge asks, what is Linford's lunchbox?". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 21 December 2007.
  25. Showing his undies is no hard Sloggi for Linford. Swindon Advertiser (12 June 2002) Retrieved on 2009-01-20
  26. Brooke, Simon (30 January 2003) Real men wear thongs The Times ; Retrieved on 2009-01-20
  27. Christie hits out at Olympic snub BBC Sport (14 October 2005) Retrieved on 2009-01-20
  28. Coe and Christie clash again BBC Sport (8 February 2002) Retrieved on 2009-01-20
  29. Campbell wants Christie call-up BBC Sport (5 July 2006) Retrieved on 2009-01-20
  30. 1 2 Faces of the week BBC Sport (11 August 2006) Retrieved on 2009-01-20
  31. British legends get mentor roles BBC Sport (4 August 2006) Retrieved on 2008-01-20
  32. Radcliffe attacks Christie role BBC Sport (13 August 2006) Retrieved on 2009-01-20
  33. 1 2 Christie will not be torch bearer BBC Sport (22 February 2008) Retrieved on 2009-01-20
  34. 1 2 Matthew Taylor (21 July 2011). "Linford Christie banned from driving after wrong-way crash". The Guardian . Guardian Media Group . Retrieved 26 July 2011.
  35. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Linford Christie – Hall of Fame Athletes Archived 21 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine UK Athletics; Retrieved on 2009-01-20
  36. 1 2 "100 Metres All Time". IAAF. 20 January 2009. Retrieved 20 January 2009.
  37. United Kingdom all-time lists men gbrathletics; Retrieved 2008-01-20
  38. 4x100 Metres Relay All Time IAAF Retrieved on 2008-01-20
  39. 60 Metres All Time IAAF; Retrieved on 2019-07-01
  40. 200 Metres All Time IAAF Retrieved on 2019-07-01
  41. United Kingdom national records and best performances; gbrathletics; Retrieved on 2009-01-20
  42. Commonwealth All-time lists; gbrathletics; Retrieved on 2009-01-20
  43. 1 2 3 4 Christie Linford Biography. IAAF. Retrieved 2019-10-03.
  44. UK Championships. GBR Athletics. Retrieved 2019-10-03.
  45. AAA Championships. GBR Athletics. Retrieved 2019-10-03.
  46. AAA Indoor Championships. GBR Athletics. Retrieved 2019-10-03.
  47. "Miss England assault case dropped". BBC News. 7 April 2010.
  48. Simon Parker (12 May 2017). "Bradford City hope to be quick out of the blocks with young talent". Telegraph & Argus. Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  49. Colin Jackson, The Autobiography (2003)

Further reading

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Nigel Mansell
BBC Sports Personality of the Year
Succeeded by
Damon Hill
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Men's European Athlete of the Year
Succeeded by
Colin Jackson
Preceded by
Marian Woronin
European Record Holder Men's 100 m
24 September 1988 – 22 August 2004
Succeeded by
Francis Obikwelu

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100 metres at the Olympics

The 100 metres at the Summer Olympics has been contested since the first edition of the multi-sport event. The men's 100 m has been present on the Olympic athletics programme since 1896. The 100 metres is considered one of the blue ribbon events of the Olympics and is among the highest profile competitions at the games. It is the most prestigious 100 m race at elite level and is the shortest sprinting competition at the Olympics – a position it has held at every edition except for a brief period between 1900 and 1904, when a men's 60 metres was contested.

Douglas "Doug" Turner is a British former track and field sprinter who competed mainly in the 200 metres. He was the silver medallist at the 1998 European Athletics Championships. His personal best for the 200 m was 20.43 seconds, set in 1996. He also represented Great Britain at the 1999 World Championships in Athletics and Wales at the Commonwealth Games in 1998 and 2002.