Lawyers call for investigation of 'leak'

Updated: July 28, 2004, 9:18 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

They walked into the room holding hands. They kissed and talked about supporting each other, a touching scene of a wife standing by her embattled husband.

That snapshot was from the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where Marion Jones paused during her run to an unprecedented five track and field medals to defend husband C.J. Hunter, who was besieged by drug allegations.

Four years later, it is Jones who faces drug allegations -- and Hunter, now her ex-husband, is the one accusing her of doping. If true, Jones could lose her spot on the U.S. team for the upcoming Athens Games and perhaps forfeit her three gold and two bronze medals from Sydney.

Jones' lawyers, in a conference call Friday, implied that federal authorities may have been behind the leak of Hunter's interview with Internal Revenue Service agents.

"If leaked by the government ... this would be a criminal matter," Burton said to the Associated Press.

The attorneys called on the federal Justice and Treasury departments to administer polygraph tests to find the source of the leak.

"What has been going on is character assassination of the worst kind, with the government and USADA acting as willing accomplices," lawyer Rich Nichols said.

Burton also slammed Hunter, calling for investigation into his statements.

"Since C.J. Hunter has lied to government officials, he also needs to be investigated, be subjected to a polygraph investigation and prosecuted for lying to federal investigators," he added to Reuters.

Published reports said Friday that Hunter, a former world champion shot putter, told federal investigators he personally injected Jones with banned substances and saw Jones inject herself with performance-enhancing drugs in Australia.

Hunter told IRS agents that Jones used human growth hormone, insulin, the endurance-boosting drug EPO and the steroid THG, according to a federal memo obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Jones' attorney, Joseph Burton, said Hunter was lying and sent a letter to federal authorities Friday asking them to give Hunter a lie-detector test and then to charge him with making false statements if he fails the polygraph test.

Jones remains under investigation by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, but has not been charged with any doping offense. She has repeatedly denied using drugs.

Hunter retired from track and field after testing positive four times for steroids in 2000. Instead of competing at the Sydney Olympics, he removed himself from the U.S. team because of an injury and then addressed reporters at a news conference with Jones at his side.

Also present was Hunter's nutritionist, Victor Conte, founder of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, who said the shot putter had tested positive due to contaminated iron supplements.

Conte is one of four men who have pleaded innocent in the BALCO case to federal charges of illegally distributing steroids to top athletes.

Hunter gave a 2½-hour interview to IRS agents in early June in Raleigh, N.C., and later appeared before the grand jury probing BALCO.

Citing investigators' memos, the Chronicle said Hunter told federal authorities that Jones used banned substances before, during and after the Sydney Games.

"Hunter stated that he saw Jones inject herself with EPO," IRS agent Erwin Rogers wrote in one of the memos quoted by the Chronicle. "Jones would inject herself in the front waist line area slightly underneath the skin. ... Initially, Hunter injected Jones because Jones did not want to inject herself in this location."

Jones and her boyfriend, Tim Montgomery, were among dozens of athletes who testified before the BALCO grand jury last fall. Montgomery, world record holder at 100 meters, has been charged by USADA with steroid use and faces a lifetime ban if found guilty.

Jones is set to compete in the long jump at the Athens Olympics. She failed to qualify in the 100 and withdrew from the 200 -- events in which she is the defending Olympic champion.

She has a very slight chance of being elevated to the U.S. team in the 100, but that possibility looked even slimmer Friday after an arbitration panel issued its findings in the drug case of Torri Edwards.

Edwards qualified for the U.S. team in the 100 and 200 for the Athens Games, but tested positive for a banned stimulant earlier this year. That could lead to a ban of up to two years, unless she can convince authorities there were mitigating circumstances in her case.

Edwards is guilty but may be able to avoid a suspension -- and keep her spot in the Olympics -- because of "exceptional circumstances," a three-member arbitration panel ruled. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released the ruling Friday.

The arbitrators referred the case to a doping review board of the International Association of Athletics Federations, which will decide whether to impose a suspension. A decision is expected before the Olympics.

If Edwards is suspended and forced to miss the Athens Olympics, fourth-place finisher Gail Devers would be entitled to her spot in the 100. But if Devers decides to focus on the 100 hurdles, in which she is the U.S. champion, that place in the 100 would go to fifth-place finisher Jones.

Information from The Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.

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