ATHENS, Greece -- The head of the World Anti-Doping Agency warned that Marion Jones will be in a "deep hole" if she's lying
about not using drugs, and he left open the possibility she could
be stripped of her five medals from the Sydney Games if found
guilty of doping.
WADA chief Dick Pound also criticized U.S. track officials
Thursday over recent drug use by American athletes.
Jones is under investigation by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency,
though she has not been charged. But her ex-husband, C.J. Hunter,
reportedly has told federal authorities in the Bay Area Laboratory
Co-Operative probe that Jones used banned drugs before, during and
after the 2000 Games.
Jones has repeatedly denied using any banned substance.
"If she's innocent, she comes here and that's fine," Pound
said. "And if she's not and comes here and has made all those
statements, it's going to be a dark and deep hole into which she
goes. It would be a shame."
Jones' lawyer, Rich Nichols, said Pound's comments simply were
the latest in a "litany of anti-American smears" by the WADA
chief. Pound has been a longtime critic of USA Track & Field and
has denounced Jones in recent months.
"Dick Pound is simply un-American and these comments are just
the latest indicator of why he should have no business being
involved in the Olympics," Nichols said. "Given Dick Pound's
anti-American bias and his lack of integrity, he should be stripped
of his current position immediately."
USATF spokeswoman Jill Geer also rejected Pound's criticisms of
Jones, who is set to perform in the long jump and is expected to run
the 400-meter relay at the Athens Games.
"Mr. Pound is well known for his colorful remarks. I would hope
that as head of the World Anti-Doping Agency he would not prejudge
any athlete," Geer said.
International Olympic Committee rules say medals cannot be
stripped more than three years after an Olympics, which would
appear to safeguard Jones' three golds and two bronzes from Sydney
even if she's found guilty of using banned substances.
But the World Anti-Doping Code, which has been adopted by the
IOC, gives an eight-year window for stripping medals -- and Pound
said he believes that code "would trump the three-year rule."
Pound repeated his dismay at some of Jones' recent public
comments, including those deriding the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. He
said the probe in the BALCO scandal -- and aggressive policies of
USADA and federal prosecutors -- have helped fortify the overall
anti-doping fight in the United States.
"If I were her lawyer, I would be trying to convince USADA
there was no case," he said. "And I would not be running around
calling it a 'kangaroo court."'
Several American athletes have tested positive for steroids in
the past year and four more face lifetime bans if found guilty of
using drugs. International track officials have accused their U.S.
counterparts of not being aggressive enough in the fight against
Pound was asked if the U.S. federation was now credible.
"No, not yet. I think the leadership within USA Track & Field
has been largely responsible for this problem getting as bad as it
has, and they're going to have to look very carefully at their own
house," he said at a news conference. "I think that they have
demonstrated over the past few years there is a very serious
problem, and it is a sleazy thing.
"I think that a lot of the difficulty has been simply a lack of
no tolerance for cheating. Until that message goes out and is
backed up by some sanctions, it's kind of an invitation to flirt
out there at the edges."
U.S. Olympic Committee officials said they have worked with
USATF to resolve recent problems, though USOC chief executive Jim
Scherr pointed out that "perhaps in hindsight they would agree
with others they could have moved more quickly."
Herman Frazier, chief of the U.S. team at the Athens Games and a
USOC vice president, said recent doping cases are "something none
of us are proud of," and the former Olympic sprinter said it's a
shame doping issues are diverting attention from athletes at the
Geer defended efforts by USATF to crack down on doping.
"Our leaders do the best job they can and do everything in
their power to stop doping in our sport," she said.