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Rediff.com  » Sports » Jones's lawyer says steroid evidence weak

Jones's lawyer says steroid evidence weak

May 26, 2004 13:37 IST

U.S. anti-doping officials have presented Olympic champion Marion Jones with copies of an annotated ledger and calendar they believe may be a schedule of her steroid use, her lawyers said on Tuesday night.

Maintaining her vigorous denial of doping, her attorneys showed the documents to Reuters in an effort to illustrate the weakness of any effort to sanction Jones, who has never tested positive for prohibited substances.

"I don't think that this evidence constitutes evidence, proof beyond a reasonable doubt of any violation of the anti-doping rules by Marion Jones," said attorney Joseph Burton.

The calendar for 2001 bears cryptic hand-written notations such as as March 29 "Start Clear",. The initials M.J. appear in the corner of the large page for that month.

A small note attached to the page for May says Marion Jones, but her lawyers say that paper was not present when they were first shown the document in November 2003.

The calendar also includes names of cities where major track meets took place as well as numbers and dates, such as 9.84 for July 13, 2001. Jones' lawyers say those numbers reflect a 100-metre race time in seconds for a man as it is too fast for a woman, and thus shows the document is not related to Jones.

A separate ledger includes notation such as "6 days off, 2 days on" with the name "Marion J." on the page. Another notation refers to Olympics, pre and post doses. The upper headings of the columns read "Type, Dosage, Test, Epi, Ratio".

Jones's lawyers obtained the copies of the documents at a three-hour meeting with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Monday.

USADA obtained the documents from the U.S. Senate's Commerce Committee, which in turn got them from the investigation into BALCO.

BALCO is the San Francisco area lab at the center of an international doping probe. Conte is one of four men, who also include the trainer for baseball star Barry Bonds, indicted on steroid-related charges earlier this year.

ANTI-DOPING OFFICIALS

"To be looking at the possibility of banning the icon of track and field in the Olympics from the Olympic Games based upon documents, lab test results, calendars, schedules, none of which in any way can be shown to relate to Marion Jones is just unbelievable,"

said her attorney Rich Nichols.

The file also includes a photocopy of a 2000 check to Victor Conte, head of BALCO, for $7,350.

The signature on the check appears to be that of Jones's former husband, shot putter C.J. Hunter, who tested positive for the banned steroid nandrolone four times before the 2000 Olympics and decided to retire in March 2001 when he was suspended for two years.

The anti-doping agency has not detailed evidence in public. In a statement on Monday it said it would continue its probe.

"USADA met with Ms. Jones today at her request so that she could share any knowledge she has that is related to the BALCO situation," USADA's legal director Travis Tygart said.

"USADA will add the information learned today from Ms. Jones to our other evidence as we continue to collect facts related to the BALCO materials received from the Senate Commerce Committee."

Details of the documents related to Jones were published in the New York Times in their Wednesday edition.

One of the top names in track and field, Jones has struggled to put rumours of steroid use at rest despite steadfast denials.

Last week fellow American sprinter Kelli White accepted a two-year ban for using banned drugs after being presented by USADA with undeniable evidence she had been cheating.

Other documents presented in Jones's USADA file show blood tests performed for BALCO although they do not bear her name. Her lawyers say she was not in the United States on the dates the results show the samples were taken.

The lawyers said Jones started using BALCO's lab-testing services in 1997 at the suggestion of her coach Trevor Graham and took the firm's ZMA zinc supplement. They said she spoke directly with Conte perhaps only two times in her life.

The Athens Olympics are in August and Jones appealed on Monday for a chance to concentrate solely on her training.

"There is nothing more I can do. It is time to allow me to put this issue behind me once and for all and focus all of my energy on where it should be focused -- bringing home some Gold Medals for the USA in Athens," she said.

Jones won Olympic gold medals in the 100 metres, 200 metres and 4x400 metre relay in the 2000 Games in Sydney.

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