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Athlete Drug Scandal Continues, Olympic Star Fights Back

By Suzanne Freeman | June 18 , 2004

Friday, June 18—A continuing drug scandal is threatening to hurt U.S. dreams of winning at least 100 medals at the 2004 Summer Olympic Games. With only weeks to go before the Games begin, one star U.S. runner is fighting back.

Marion Jones, who won three gold and two bronze medals in the 2000 Olympics in Australia, has threatened to sue the agency investigating illegal steroid use. Athletes under investigation for steroid use could be banned from participating in the Summer Games. The Games begin on August 13 in Athens, Greece.

"Despite all of its leaks and rumor-mongering, USADA (U.S. Anti-Doping Agency) has yet to produce a single shred of credible evidence against me," said Jones. ""I should have been cleared long ago."

Jones made her statement against the USADA at a press conference in San Francisco yesterday. She called the agency, which was created in 2000 to fight steroid use, a "kangeroo court." The USADA drug tests Olympic athletes for steroid use.

Jones challenged the USADA to interview her publicly and threatened to sue the group for hurting her career. She also called on the U.S. Congress to hold public hearings on steroid abuse.

"Throughout all this, I have maintained my sincere belief that if the process is fair, that in the end the truth would prevail and my name would be cleared," Jones said. "However, the events of the last several weeks have led me, more in sadness than in anger, to the conclusion that USADA is not engaged in a fair process."

Athletes Charged

Four U.S. track-and-field stars are officially under investigation for possible steroid use. One, Kelli White, was recently banned. White was the world's top female sprinter in 2003.

Jones has been questioned by the USADA, but not officially investigated. One of four latest to be named in the investigation is Jones's boyfriend, Tim Montgomery. Her ex-husband, C.J. Hunter, who tested positive for steroids in 2000, has agreed to talk to investigators.

BALCO Connections

The USADA has tested all of the athletes involved numerous times, but have not found evidence of drug use in urine or blood samples. They are basing their investigation on documents found by federal agents during a raid on the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO), a nutritional supplement company. Several high-profile athletes in professional sports were implicated for steroid use in the raid.

Testimony from BALCO executives may also be used to implicate athletes. Victor Conte, the company founder, told President George W. Bush in a recent letter that he would "tell all" if the government promised not to send him to prison.

 

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