I DON'T FEAR CHEATERS
Wednesday, February 18, 2004
BIRMINGHAM, England -- Marion Jones has a pretty simple take on the swirling steroid stories in track and field: Even if you take drugs, I'll beat you.
Jones, who has returned to the sport after taking over a year off to have a baby, is set to compete in her second meet of the season Friday.
And she is ready to beat anyone she faces.
"If I put all of my eggs in one basket, if I trained 100 percent, I know with my talent level and with my confidence that, if you decide to try and cheat against me, I'm still going to win the race," she said Wednesday.
"It's not because I might be beating cheats, it's because I know that I've trained hard, my training is coming out and people are able to see that you can be blessed with a lot of talents and you can beat whoever on any given day."
The five-time medalist from the 2000 Sydney Olympics does not fear cheaters, and reaffirmed she is drug free.
But she did testify before a grand jury in San Francisco following a police investigation of the California-based Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative. Four men allegedly connected with BALCO face charges of unlawfully giving or offering steroids to sports stars.
Her return to action comes with the sport reeling from the BALCO case and a series of positive tests, which include double world sprint champion Kelli White and Dwain Chambers, whose case goes before a UK Athletics hearing Thursday.
White tested positive for the stimulant modafinil and could still lose her medals, while Chambers tested positive for the steroid THG.
"I know that one person in particular is drug free and that's myself," Jones said. "But I can't speak for other athletes and I have no idea what percentage is on or off. For me to come up with a percentage would be totally unfair to the rest of the sport.
"I only know what I'm doing. I'm training hard and I'm for a drug free sport."
Jones gave birth eight months ago to a son with sprinter boyfriend Tim Montgomery. She won the 60 meters at the Millrose Games in New York on Feb. 6 in her first race since September 2002, and will compete in the 60 and long jump Friday.
But Jones does not believe her return will lift a cloud from the sport.
"There are a lot of wonderful performances and wonderful athletes and, although we have a bit of a shadow hanging over the sport I don't think that my coming back into it is going to bring a smile," she said. "If you're a true track fan you'll have it on your face anyway."
Jones has plenty of goals on the track: improving her starts and transforming her ugly long jump technique into perfection.
Although she won her comeback race at Millrose, she had a modest time of 7.21 seconds after another slow start. She will need to begin much better at National Indoor Arena where she faces Zhanna Block, the Ukrainian who beat her in the 2001 world championship at Edmonton, Alberta.
She also hopes that her first ever indoor jump will reveal a much improved technique.
"In the past I have relied solely on my speed to carry me and get the long distances and now I'm going to take a controlled run down the runway and get my body in certain angles that they have never been in before."
It figures, the gal was probably juiced like her other countrywoman.