WADA chief: Marion in 'deep hole' if guilty

Updated: August 12, 2004, 11:02 PM ET
Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- The head of the World Anti-Doping Agency warned that Marion Jones will be in a "deep hole" if she's lying about not using drugs, and he left open the possibility she could be stripped of her five medals from the Sydney Games if found guilty of doping.

WADA chief Dick Pound also criticized U.S. track officials Thursday over recent drug use by American athletes.

Jones is under investigation by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, though she has not been charged. But her ex-husband, C.J. Hunter, reportedly has told federal authorities in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative probe that Jones used banned drugs before, during and after the 2000 Games.

Jones has repeatedly denied using any banned substance.

"If she's innocent, she comes here and that's fine," Pound said. "And if she's not and comes here and has made all those statements, it's going to be a dark and deep hole into which she goes. It would be a shame."

Jones' lawyer, Rich Nichols, said Pound's comments simply were the latest in a "litany of anti-American smears" by the WADA chief. Pound has been a longtime critic of USA Track & Field and has denounced Jones in recent months.

"Dick Pound is simply un-American and these comments are just the latest indicator of why he should have no business being involved in the Olympics," Nichols said. "Given Dick Pound's anti-American bias and his lack of integrity, he should be stripped of his current position immediately."

USATF spokeswoman Jill Geer also rejected Pound's criticisms of Jones, who is set to perform in the long jump and is expected to run the 400-meter relay at the Athens Games.

"Mr. Pound is well known for his colorful remarks. I would hope that as head of the World Anti-Doping Agency he would not prejudge any athlete," Geer said.

International Olympic Committee rules say medals cannot be stripped more than three years after an Olympics, which would appear to safeguard Jones' three golds and two bronzes from Sydney even if she's found guilty of using banned substances.

But the World Anti-Doping Code, which has been adopted by the IOC, gives an eight-year window for stripping medals -- and Pound said he believes that code "would trump the three-year rule."

Pound repeated his dismay at some of Jones' recent public comments, including those deriding the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. He said the probe in the BALCO scandal -- and aggressive policies of USADA and federal prosecutors -- have helped fortify the overall anti-doping fight in the United States.

"If I were her lawyer, I would be trying to convince USADA there was no case," he said. "And I would not be running around calling it a 'kangaroo court."'

Several American athletes have tested positive for steroids in the past year and four more face lifetime bans if found guilty of using drugs. International track officials have accused their U.S. counterparts of not being aggressive enough in the fight against drugs.

Pound was asked if the U.S. federation was now credible.

"No, not yet. I think the leadership within USA Track & Field has been largely responsible for this problem getting as bad as it has, and they're going to have to look very carefully at their own house," he said at a news conference. "I think that they have demonstrated over the past few years there is a very serious problem, and it is a sleazy thing.

"I think that a lot of the difficulty has been simply a lack of no tolerance for cheating. Until that message goes out and is backed up by some sanctions, it's kind of an invitation to flirt out there at the edges."

U.S. Olympic Committee officials said they have worked with USATF to resolve recent problems, though USOC chief executive Jim Scherr pointed out that "perhaps in hindsight they would agree with others they could have moved more quickly."

Herman Frazier, chief of the U.S. team at the Athens Games and a USOC vice president, said recent doping cases are "something none of us are proud of," and the former Olympic sprinter said it's a shame doping issues are diverting attention from athletes at the Athens Games.

Geer defended efforts by USATF to crack down on doping.

"Our leaders do the best job they can and do everything in their power to stop doping in our sport," she said.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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