But there is another issue that stalks Christie, a subject that lives only in whispers but is impossible for him to dismiss. "Christie got older, bigger and faster at the same time," says a U.S. agent who represents a number of sprinters. "We all know how that happens." Such talk infuriates Christie. He says that he has undergone drug testing hundreds of times. He has been met at Heathrow Airport and asked for a urine sample, he has been awakened from a nap at his home and asked for a sample. He has been clean every time.
He fights back time by lifting weights ferociously and training 12 months a year, whether it's an Olympic year or not. Who is clean? Who is not? It is an answerless question. "The bottom line is work," says Smith. "This guy works."
Christie is sprawled on a couch in a condominium complex in Gainesville. "I hope people don't ever forget who I am," he says, but he knows this can't be accomplished with words alone. The rest of the world is running faster than at any time since 1991. If legacy is so important, he must go to Atlanta. A victory there would provide an ending that couldn't be ignored.
"My god, it sure would," he says, nodding softly. "It sure would." Then he shakes away the dream and laughs himself back to the present. "But, of course," he says, "I'm not even thinking about any of that."