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September 21, 2000
Perec to miss Olympics
A Reebok spokesperson confirmed that the enigmatic French star would take no further part in the Games.
Perec left Sydney late on Wednesday for Singapore after receiving threats, a French television station reported earlier.
TF1, which quoted the athlete's agent Annick Averinos for its information, did not elaborate.
The Reebok spokesperson, however, confirmed that the threats had caused Perec to leave Sydney, and give the Olympics a miss.
Perec, 32, who won an unprecedented 200 and 400 metres double at the 1996 Atlanta Games and took the one-lap title in Barcelona four years earlier, had been staying in a Sydney hotel.
She is due to enter the 400 metres heats at the Sydney Olympics on Friday, for a much-anticipated showdown with the host country's Cathy Freeman.
Perec has been the mystery woman of the Games, shunning the French athletics team's official news conference on Tuesday.
She has hardly competed this year and has refused to talk in public since arriving in Sydney.
She has also irritated French officials by declining to join their team training camp in the Sydney suburb of Narrabeen, training instead at a secret location with her German coach, Wolfgang Meier.
Plagued by injury and sickness since Atlanta, Perec has barely competed since.
She took a gamble earlier this year by leaving the stable of American guru John Smith to join Meier, the husband and former coach of former East German sprinter Marita Koch who still holds the 400 metres world record.
Perec's last race was in Nice in July, when she was third in 50.32 seconds in her first one-lap event in four years. She won gold in Atlanta in 48.25, while Koch's record, set in 1985, stands at 47.60.
Parec and her fiance, who landed in Singapore, were questioned by police over an airport assault on a television cameraman, Australian Channel 9 television said.
Footage of the incident broadcast by Channel 9, which had put the cameraman on the same flight from Australia as the Frenchwoman, clearly showed a fist winding up for a punch.
Channel 9 news director Paul Fenn said Perec's fiance Anthuan Maybank hit the cameraman ''behind the ear and generally whacked him''. The cameraman was shaken but not hurt, Fenn said.
''The police questioned the pair (Perec and Maybank) in the airport and in the city and I understand they've been released,'' Fenn said. He said no charges would be laid.
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