Marion hits back at IOC chief

OSTRAVA (Czech Republic): Marion Jones says International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge is in no position to talk about the people she chooses to live and train with. 

Jones, speaking a day before she competes in the long jump at the Golden Spike meet, acknowledged on Monday that she made “suspect” decisions in the past about the people with whom she associated. 

But she said Rogge was out of line when he contended in a Sunday newspaper interview that she was “stupid” to get involved with certain people. 

“It’s an extremely ignorant comment of him to make not knowing the circumstances and not knowing the situation,” Jones said at a news conference. 

If Rogge had asked her first, “I could have explained to him the situation ... which he knows little about,” she said. 

Jones is under investigation by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which is reviewing files in the BALCO steroid case to determine whether there is enough evidence to ban her from the Athens Olympics. 

Jones said the only people who had real knowledge about the case are herself, USADA and the government. 

“I think it’s quite ignorant for a man in such a powerful position,” she said of Rogge. 

The triple Olympic gold medallist said she has been drug free “my entire career”. 

“I’m 100% confident,” she said. “I’m not concerned about anything.” 

Jones has threatened to sue if USADA tries to keep her out of the Athens Games in August. Rogge said no evidence has been found to implicate her, but questioned her judgment. 

“She is today technically innocent,” Rogge told the Sunday Times. “But ultimately she has to ask herself something about the perception that people might have – that people might say, ‘Are you sure you are living with the right people?’” 

Jones and boyfriend Tim Montgomery were among dozens of athletes who have testified in the case involving the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, a California sports supplement company accused of being at the centre of a doping ring. 

Jones’ attorney, Joseph Burton, accused Rogge of trying to influence an investigation by USADA and called the comments “irresponsible”. 

Jones and Montgomery, the men’s world 100m record holder, also worked for a time with Charlie Francis, coach of Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson, who was twice banned for taking steroids. 

She also was married to shot putter C.J. Hunter, who tested positive for the steroid nandrolone before the 2000 Sydney Olympics. 

“Yes, my decision making about certain people in the past was a little suspect,” Jones said, adding she “parted ways” with those people. 

In the newspaper interview, Rogge said Jones should take “a long, hard look at the people she meets and the people she trains with and the people she is living with”. 

“To have a link with someone like Charlie Francis is not a criminal offence,” Rogge said. “But it is damn stupid. You can’t disqualify her but it is stupid to train with a guy with the reputation of Francis.” 

Another top athlete competing in Ostrava is Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia, who set a world record in the 5,000m last month, clocking 12:37.35. 

He’s running in the 10,000m and said another world record is possible. – AP 

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