Montgomery, Collins under investigation
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency plans to seek a lifetime ban against 100-meter world record holder Tim Montgomery for alleged drug violations, The Associated Press has learned.
Montgomery was notified Wednesday, according to two sources familiar with the letter who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.
Another track star, Michelle Collins, the 2003 world indoor champion at 200 meters and potential medalist at this summer's Athens Games, also was told USADA would seek to ban her for life, according to her lawyer.
The decision to pursue a doping ban against Montgomery is sure to send shockwaves through the sporting world with the Athens Games now less than two months away.
Montgomery is the boyfriend of three-time Olympic champion Marion Jones, and they have a nearly 1-year-old son. Collins is a former training partner of Jones, who is being investigated for possible doping by USADA but has not been formally notified she is the target of a probe.
USADA confirmed only that it "sent letters to several track and field athletes charging them" with doping violations.
It's the first time the agency has filed charges against an athlete who has not failed or refused to take a drug test. USADA has built its cases on evidence from the federal probe of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative.
Howard Jacobs, one of Montgomery's lawyers, accused USADA of "McCarthy-like tactics in its efforts to ruin Tim's reputation." He didn't divulge details of the letter, saying only that it doesn't allege Montgomery "took any banned substances."
"The conclusion by USADA's review board ... to proceed with the adjudication process based on some vague assertion of Tim's alleged involvement with BALCO further underscores the basic lack of fairness in this entire process," Jacobs said in a statement. "USADA's leap to judgment on the flimsiest of so-called `evidence' confirms our worst suspicions."
Montgomery and Collins now have to decide whether to accept their punishment or appeal either to an arbitration panel or to the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport. USADA hopes to have cases wrapped up before the Aug. 13-29 Olympics -- or perhaps even before the U.S. Olympic trials next month in Sacramento, Calif.
Getz said he would take Collins' case to arbitration and expects it to be dismissed.
"They never produced anyone who ever said they saw her ingest drugs. They never provided names of any person who claims she paid for any drugs or used them," Getz said. "All of her tests are negative. ... I just can't believe that any balanced, fair tribunal would take what they call evidence and give them a favorable decision. Any fair tribunal would look at this evidence and say it's woefully inadequate."
Montgomery and Collins are among four sprinters who received USADA letters earlier this month informing them that they were being investigated for possible drug use.
The others are 2000 Olympic 400-meter silver medalist Alvin Harrison and two-time Olympic relay medalist Chryste Gaines. Harrison's attorney, Ed Williams, would not comment Wednesday. Gaines' attorney, Cameron Myler, did not return phone messages.
It was not immediately clear whether Montgomery would lose his world record of 9.78 seconds, set in September 2002 in Paris, if he is found guilty of doping. If so, the record would revert to Maurice Greene's 9.79, set in 1999 in Athens, Greece.
A spokesman for the U.S. Olympic Committee, Darryl Seibel, wouldn't comment, saying it's "a matter between USADA, the athletes and their representatives, and it would not be appropriate."
BALCO allegedly is at the center of a steroid-distribution ring. Thousands of pages of material from the BALCO probe were given to USADA by a Senate committee last month in hopes of guaranteeing a drug-free U.S. Olympic team.
Jones, along with Montgomery and the other three athletes, testified last fall before the federal grand jury probing BALCO. She repeatedly has denied ever using prohibited substances.
Last month, Jones met with USADA officials. She received a letter from the agency two weeks ago asking follow-up questions.
Jones' ex-husband, C.J. Hunter, met with USADA officials Saturday, according to a Washington Post report, but it is not known what information he provided, if any.
Kelli White admitted to doping offenses last month based on documents from the BALCO case. White, who would have been a medal favorite in the sprints in Athens, accepted a two-year ban and was stripped of her world titles in the 100 and 200 meters.
The Los Angeles Times, citing documents obtained by the newspaper, reported Tuesday that USADA alleges Montgomery used five banned steroids, human growth hormone, the blood-booster EPO and insulin -- some as far back as 2000.
Collins, Montgomery and Gaines responded to the June 7 USADA letter last week, and Harrison responded early this week. A USADA review panel met early this week to recommend whether to formally initiate doping cases against the four athletes.
Montgomery, 29, would represent the biggest scalp for anti-doping campaigners since Canada's Ben Johnson was stripped of the 100-meter gold medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics after testing positive for steroids.
Montgomery shot to fame at the Grand Prix final in Paris two years, setting the world record in a blistering 9.78 seconds.
But for much of his career, Montgomery had appeared little more than a solid, journeyman sprinter.
He did not qualify for the U.S. team at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games but the next year took third at the 1997 world championships in Athens.
His performance slipped over the next few years; he placed sixth at Seville world championships and failed to qualify in either the 100 or 200 meters for the 2000 Sydney Olympics
Montgomery finally began to emerge as a front line sprinter at the 2001 Edmonton world championships when he ran 9.85 in finishing second to Greene.
Information from The Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.