LOS ANGELES: Triple Olympic champion Marion Jones has severed her ties with suspended Canadian athletics coach Charlie Francis, according to a report in yesterdays Los Angeles Times.
Francis was banned for life from coaching Canadian athletes after his protege Ben Johnson tested positive for steroids following victory in the 1988 Seoul Olympics 100m final in a world record time.
Jones and mens 100m world record holder Tim Montgomery split with longtime coach Trevor Graham in December to work with Canadian coach Derek Hansen, who introduced them to Francis.
I have a responsibility to the sport, but I have a responsibility to myself to want to get better and improve my technique, Jones told the newspaper in a report to be published yesterday.
And that's all I was trying to do, improve my career and be on the same level as every other sprinter in the world who gets advice from this man.
Just because it's not public or they're not the number one female athlete in the world, nobody cares. It's something that's unfortunate, but life is unfortunate sometimes.
Jones said in the interview, of which Reuters has obtained a transcript, Montgomery would soon be issuing his own statement but expressed her annoyance at the speculation surrounding their training with Francis.
I don't feel and I don't think I've broken any rules, she said. Im a proponent of a drug-free sport and I always will be. Many nights I've lain in bed and thought that I believe drugs should not be in the sport, but I'm always being dragged through the mud.
I've never tested positive and I never will, but everybody is putting guilt by association into this, which is so ridiculous.
She said Francis never once brought up drugs during their two-month relationship, and that their conversations were confined to her technique, which she said he improved more in a few months than the past three or four years.
Although Francis' ban did not prohibit him from working with other countries' athletes, the IAAF and European meeting organisers became concerned about Francis after reports that he was working with Jones and Montgomery, two of the sport's biggest names.
It is not very good for (their) image and for the image of our sport, IAAF president Lamine Diack said last week.
Golden League organisers also raised concerns, some saying they were considering banning the couple from their meetings if they were working with Francis. Reuters