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September 23, 2000
Perec says she'll be back
Marie-Jose Perec has made a first public statement via the internet after fleeing the Olympic Games in bizzare fashion.
''So I preferred to leave Sydney. That's it but don't worry about me. I'll be back with you very soon,'' the 32-year-old said on her home page without giving any further details.
The three-times Olympic champion Perec has so far not said why she decided not to race in the 400m at the Olympics and left Sydney on Wednesday. Her agent said that Perec will make a statement in a few days.
Perec's German coach Wolfgang Meier said in an interview with the Le Parisien daily Saturday that the 32-year-old Perec left Sydney because she was harassed three times.
''After the third time when she was harassed, in a supermarket, she decided to leave. I knew that a first assault took place in the car park of her hotel, and the second in her room. I managed to talk her out of leaving after the first two incidents. But I wasn't able to stop her after the third,'' Meier said.
Meier dismissed claims Perec was out of form and said she could have run ''48.95 to 49.12 seconds''.
Perec returned to Paris by plane early on Friday after a bizarre flight from the Sydney Olympics and a fighting incident between her American boyfriend, Anthuan Maybank, and a cameraman during a stop-over in Singapore.
Following nine hours of interrogation by the Singapore police, and an intervention by the French embassy, Perec and Maybank were released and continued on to Paris.
In Singapore, Perec had told French sports minister Marie-George Buffet by telephone she had not been able to handle the immense pressure from the Australian media. Perec had been elusive in Sydney, hiding in her hotel room and refusing to live or train with the other French athletes.
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