Local News

Cloud Of Substance Abuse Hangs Over Jones

Posted June 23, 2004

— Guilty until proven innocent seems to be the recent assumption about track athletes such as North Carolina's Marion Jones and the use of banned performance enhancers.

The latest allegation hits close to home, accusing Jones' boyfriend of doping.

The United States Anti-Doping Agency reportedly plans to seek a lifetime ban against 100-meter world record holder Tim Montgomery for alleged drug violations.

But the cloud of substance abuse hangs over the whole sport. A local former Olympian said that, guilty or not, it will show in Greece.

So far, Jones is not accused of doing anything wrong. But the


is making a case that creates a public perception of guilt by association.

First, the International Olympic Committee said Jones' former husband, C.J. Hunter, tested positive for steroids in 1999.

Now, the

Los Angeles Times

is reporting that her boyfriend, Tim Montgomery, used steroids before setting the 100-meter record two years ago.



article cites documents from the anti-doping agency that notified Montgomery of potential violations.

"I think it's a witch hunt right now," North Carolina Central University track coach Mike Lawson said.

Lawson said he wants his sport cleaned up. But he said these investigations should have taken place earlier.

Now, the former Olympian said it is only distracting athletes like Jones, who he says is innocent.

"When you go home, you've got media," Lawson said. "When you travel, you've got media. You can't concentrate, and it is going to affect . . . It is going to affect our world's best."

As Lawson oversees a camp for young athletes this week, he says he worries about what doping is doing to track and field. He blames big money for turning athletes to drugs.

"Couple million dollars on a race, or baseball game, or any other sport,"he said. "And if you know cheating is going on, the thought may come in your mind."

Lawson said Jones, however, has not used steroids. He said he has known her since she was young and said she always has been a natural athlete.

Meanwhile, late Wednesday afternoon, the anti-doping agency announced it would seek a lifetime ban for another champion sprinter, Michelle Collins. Collins received her letter from the agency at the same time as Montgomery.

Two other runners received similar letters. So far, Collins-- a former training partner of Jones -- is the only who knows her recommended punishment.


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