Status of relay athletes in doubt due to scandal ties
AUSTIN, Texas -- The women's track and field coach for the U.S. Olympic team says the steroid scandal that is rocking the sport leaves many questions about the makeup of the country's relay teams in Athens.
Sue Humphrey said Friday that the BALCO scandal and the uncertainty of some sprinters' status, combined with the tight selection deadline, could affect the relay pool.
Kelli White, who won the 100 and 200 at last year's world championships, has accepted a two-year ban from the sport after being confronted with evidence that she took steroids and other banned substances.
Two other top women's sprinters, Chryste Gaines and Michelle Collins, along with world 100-meter record holder Tim Montgomery, have been notified by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that they may be banned from the Athens Games because of documents discovered in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative investigation.
The sport's biggest name, Marion Jones, has been asked to answer more questions as USADA considers her case. Jones has denied ever taking banned substances and vows a court fight if an attempt is made to keep her off the Olympic team.
Humphrey, who lives in Austin, spoke at the Friday luncheon of the Track and Field Writers of America.
"First of all, I'm very disappointed in the individuals who have taken certain routes that have led to this," she said. "I think they've made some very poor choices and that's unfortunate. But rather than dwell on that, I want to dwell and look forward to the athletes that are doing well."
She mentioned University of Miami sprinter Lauryn Williams, who also spoke at the luncheon. Williams knows that there could be opportunities for young athletes to take the place of those who might be forced out of the games.
"Track needs to be cleaned up," Williams said. "I feel that me or Muna [Lee] are as worthy of the Olympics as Marion Jones or anyone else."
The U.S. Olympic trials are scheduled July 9-18 in Sacramento, Calif. The team, including the six-member pools for the 400- and 1,600-meter relays, will be officially announced July 19, then the roster will be shipped by air to Athens. The Olympic deadline for receiving entries is July 21.
"We can't worry about the people that won't be with us, because that's out of our hands," Humphrey said. "My main thing is just hopefully all the legal processes are finished by trials, so that we know who to enter and who we can take and not be tarnished by any scandal issues."
If legal action is unresolved, then the Olympic coaches will be in a difficult spot.
"In America, you're innocent until proven guilty. However, when you read the paper that doesn't always seem to be the case," Humphrey said. "That's where it's going to get kind of crazy. We're going to have to rely on our legal staff and the USOC's legal staff to help us."
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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