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Jones makes belated entry to Games

By John Mehaffey
August 25, 2004 11:21 IST
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What a difference a year makes.

Twelve months ago triple Olympic champion Marion Jones was relishing motherhood, enjoying her enforced leisure and looking forward to competing in the Athens Olympics.

Marion JonesNow she will enter the Games on Wednesday almost by the back door after the BALCO laboratory scandal, which has sent shockwaves through her sport.

Jones, who won a record five medals in Sydney, has qualified only for the long jump in Athens although she could run one or both relays. The long jump qualifying is scheduled for Wednesday evening.

In sharp contrast to Sydney, where she was the focus of attention after announcing she was trying to go one better than Jesse Owens and Carl Lewis by winning five gold medals, Jones has given no news conferences or interviews.

Her silence is understandable.

Jones, who has never failed a dope test, has been under investigation by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) after the discovery of a new designer steroid, which has been traced to the BALCO laboratory.

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Her partner, world 100 metres record holder Tim Montgomery, has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport after receiving a letter from USADA alleging serious doping offences.

According to U.S. newspaper reports Jones's former husband C.J. Hunter, who tested positive for large amounts of nandrolone four times in 2000, has told federal investigators that he injected his wife with drugs in Sydney.

Jones, the double Sydney sprint champion, finished fifth in the 100 metres at the U.S. trials and pulled out of the 200. She won the American long jump title.

In Sydney, Jones finished third behind German Heike Drechsler and Italian Fiona May in the long jump, her weakest event.

She has improved her rudimentary technique, which relied primarily on sheer speed, under Canadian coach Dan Pfaff and must be a medal contender again, although Russian world indoor champion Tatyana Lebedeva is the world leader by some distance.

Unfortunately for Jones, it will not only be her long jumping that will be under scrutiny in Athens.
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John Mehaffey
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