Originally created 06/17/04

Jones takes drug fight to public domain



SAN FRANCISCO - Olympic champion runner Marion Jones called Wednesday for a public hearing in her campaign to clear her name and prevent drug allegations from keeping her out of the Athens Games.

"I am not going to engage in the United States Anti-Doping Agency's secret kangaroo court. I will answer questions in a public forum that will be open for the entire world to see, hear and evaluate," Jones said at a news conference.

The USADA is investigating Jones for possible violations of rules banning performance-enhancing drugs. Jones met with USADA officials in May to discuss possible drug evidence against her, and received a letter from the agency last week asking follow-up questions.

Jones, who lives near Raleigh, N.C., was one of several dozen athletes who gave secret testimony last fall before a grand jury that ultimately indicted four men for allegedly distributing steroids to top athletes. The defendants include Victor Conte, founder of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, which allegedly dispensed the drugs.

Jones has requested that prosecutors release her grand jury testimony so she can pass it on to the USADA, and also has asked the USADA for help in getting the secret testimony released.

"I will answer all the questions USADA is asking of me for the third time," Jones said. "However, this time I will not answer them in secret and behind closed doors. I will answer them in public in the light of day so the world can hear the questions, hear my responses, see the information and see for themselves that I am telling the truth."

"We can answer these questions before the United States Senate, which has shown an interest in this matter, or some other public forum modeled after a judicial proceeding," she added.

Then she repeated a statement she has made repeatedly in response to questions raised about her success as a runner: "I have never, ever used performance enhancing drugs. I have accomplished what I have accomplished because of my God-given abilities and hard work."

Jones won an unprecedented five track medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and has hinted she might try to match that mark at the Athens Games. She repeatedly has denied using performance-enhancing drugs and has vowed to fight any USADA charges.

The USADA probe of Jones and other athletes is based on documents from the grand jury investigation that were subpoenaed by a Senate committee and then turned over to the USADA.