NEW YORK: American sprint queen Marion Jones promised a lawsuit here on Sunday if she qualifies for the Athens Olympics and the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) tries to ban her without a positive dope test.
Jones, who won five medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, has been linked to the BALCO steroid distribution scandal and previously undetectable steroid tetrahydrogestrinone (THG) but again denied she has taken improper drugs.
I have always been drug free, I am drug free and I will continue to be drug free, Jones said.
Jones blasted the notion that USADA could keep a qualifying athlete from Athens because of non-analytical positives, evidence linking athletes to performance-boosting drugs even though no dope test ever came back positive.
For someone to be found guilty or condemned without any form of investigation, I think that's unfair, Jones said. We live in the United States, where you are innocent until proven guilty.
If I make the Olympic team, which I plan to, and I'm held from the Olympic Games because of something somebody thought, you bet there will be lawsuits.
I will not let some organisation take away my livelihood because some organisation had a thought, a hunch, some organisation showing their power.
USADA has received evidence gathered by federal BALCO investigators, thanks to the US Senate Commerce Committee, and could use it to impose bans in the quest to uncover doping cheats and send a clean team to Athens.
Asked if there was any reason to believe there was any evidence in the documents that might lead to her receiving such a ban, Jones replied, At this point no. She also said she had never been contacted by USADA.
Herman Frazier, US Olympic Committee chef de mission, said that such an unprecedented move would require a near-ironclad case against an athlete.
It would really have to be concrete evidence before we take someone off the team, he said.
Jones was among 27 athletes named in a federal investigator's memo as having received THG from BALCO, according to the San Jose Mercury News. The memo cites a statement from BALCO's Conte, who through lawyers denied naming Jones. AFP