Marion told to stay away

LONDON: European athletics meeting organisers plan to bar American former three-time Olympic champion Marion Jones from their races when they meet next month, officials said. 

The Euromeetings Group is also likely to close its doors on Olympic 100m champion Justin Gatlin, who failed a drugs test last year. 

Big, strong and friendly: American sprinter Shawn Crawford posing for photographers under the Sydney Harbour Bridge during a press conference yesterday. Crawford, the AthensOlympics 200m gold medallist, will be running at an athletics event in Sydney tomorrow. – AP

Rajne Soderberg, the president of the group which organises lucrative athletics meetings across Europe, said they would recommend that Jones and all athletes associated with Jamaican-born American coach Trevor Graham were barred from their meetings. 

Jones: The American sprinter was clearedof a doping offence in 2006.

Sprinter and long jumper Jones, 32, who won three gold and two bronze medals in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, was cleared of a doping offence in 2006 after a B-test proved negative following a positive for the banned blood-booster erythropoietin (EPO). 

“We shall not stop any athlete from running in Europe because that is the prerogative of individual meeting officials, but we shall recommend that Marion Jones and all Trevor Graham’s athletes are barred from running in our meetings,” Soderberg told Reuters on Tuesday. 

“The European Spring meeting will discuss the doping issue in athletics and athletes to be invited and those not to be invited, but it is still up to individual meeting directors to invite whom they wish to invite,” said Soderberg.  

Jones has consistently denied taking prohibited substances and no longer trains with Graham. 

The 2004 Athens Olympics were very disappointing for Jones, one year after giving birth to a son, Tim Jr, named after his father Tim Montgomery. She finished fifth in the long jump while her 4x100m relay team missed a baton in the final. 

She emerged last year to run some sensational races in Europe, winning the 100m dash at Gaz de France in 10.93 on July 8, which was her fastest in almost four years.  

She improved it to 10.91 in the Rome Golden League three days later although she was beaten to second by Jamaica’s Sherone Simpson who clocked 10.87. 

Swede Soderberg, who is also meet director of DN Galan Grand Prix in Stockholm, said the meeting to discuss the issues would take place on March 1 in Birmingham, England, on the eve of the European Indoor Championships (March 2-4). 

Graham is a Jamaican-born athletics coach, based in Raleigh, North Carolina. Among his current athletes are Gatlin and top US sprinter Shawn Crawford. 

He has previously coached Jones, former 100m world record holder Montgomery and C.J. Hunter, a shot putter who was married to Jones. The latter pair were given bans for doping. 

Graham was indicted by a US grand jury in November last year on three counts of making false statements related to steroid distribution. 

He played a critical role in the BALCO (Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative) scandal of June 2003, anonymously sending a syringe containing the designer steroid Tetrahydrogestrinone (THG) to the United States Anti-Doping Agency. 

This led to the BALCO head, Victor Conte, being imprisoned after a trial in San Francisco. – Reuters 

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