Did U.S. anti-doping officials inch closer last week to charging sprin…

Did U.S. anti-doping officials inch closer last week to charging sprinter
Marion Jones with drug violations? Jones, who has never failed a drug test and
maintains that she’s never used banned substances, is under the U.S. Anti-
Doping Agency’s watch for her implication in the BALCO steroids case — but
has not been notified of any disciplinary action against her. Still, with
track-and-field trials starting July 9, and with the USADA wanting an
untainted team going to Athens, the agency last Wednesday charged boyfriend
Tim Montgomery, the world’s fastest man, with cheating based on documents and
other circumstantial evidence from the BALCO case; it also charged Michelle
Collins, Jones’s former training partner. (Neither has failed a drug test, and
lawyers say the athletes will contest.)

Then, last Thursday, the San Francisco
Chronicle, citing unnamed sources, reported that Montgomery told a federal
grand jury last year that BALCO founder Victor Conte Jr. had given steroids to
him and Barry Bonds. (Bonds and Conte Jr. deny the allegations.)

By threatening Montgomery and Collins with possible lifetime bans, the
USADA may be trying to negotiate a deal for testimony against Jones; sprinter
Kelli White accepted a two-year ban in May after she admitted doping. Some
anti-doping officials suggest it’s just a matter of time before Jones is

And while her professional and personal relationships may reflect
poorly on her judgment — Jones’s ex-husband, shot-putter C. J. Hunter,
retired in 2000 after failing drug tests, and she and Montgomery worked with
Charlie Francis, who gave Ben Johnson steroids in the ’80s — a member of her
legal team says, “We have said all along she is innocent; nothing has changed
our position.”

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