Athletics: Olympian Idowu banned from driving

Olympic triple jumper Phillips Idowu was banned from driving on Monday after the British star was caught drunk behind the wheel following a domestic incident.

Idowu pleaded guilty to driving his white Land Rover in Epping, Essex, while two and a half times over the legal alcohol limit.

The 34-year-old was banned from driving for 24 months and must pay a fine of £145 ($232, 171 euros) and £85 costs.

Appearing at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court, Idowu was also ordered to complete 50 hours of unpaid community service within the next 12 months following the incident, which happened at about 0830GMT on September 20.

His solicitor, Joe Life, told the court he had been out with friends the previous night and returned home to bed.

"He just got in the car because circumstances forced him to leave the house in a hurry and he was driving a short distance," Life said.

She said she did not want to elaborate on the exact nature of the incident, but added: "He planned to stay at a hotel which was under a mile away to get away from the circumstances which had unfolded at the house."

But, speaking after the case, Essex Police revealed they had stopped Idowu as he drove away following a family row at his house.

A spokesman said: "We were called to reports of a domestic argument at a property in Crossing Road shortly before 9.30am.

"A man had left the scene prior to police arriving and was subsequently arrested."

Idowu has a long-term relationship with his Spanish girlfriend, Carlita, with whom he has two children.

Idowu, described by police as "unemployed", has no income and is currently living off savings, the court heard.

He had asked to be fined rather than given community service as he had an employment opportunity abroad beginning next month, the court heard.

Idowu won a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and World Championship gold in Berlin the following year.

He was a hot tip for gold at last year's London Olympics but a leg and hip injury thwarted his medal hopes and he failed to make it through to the final.

Idowu has stopped short of retiring from track and field competition but has announced he is taking an extended break from athletics "for the foreseeable future".