Marion Jones, Target of Drug Probe, Qualifies

Aug. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Five-time Olympic medalist Marion Jones, who's had a stressful year while being investigated for possible use of banned drugs, enjoyed a brief moment of relaxation after qualifying for the long-jump final on her second attempt.

After fouling on her first jump last night, Jones leaped 6.70 meters (22 feet) on her next effort, passing the automatic qualifying mark of 6.65 meters. She then skipped her third jump and finished with the seventh-best qualifying distance, .25 meters behind leader Tatyana Lebedeva of Russia.

``It's a little bit about (winning the) gold, but it's also about doing my best in the midst of massive chaos,'' the 28-year- old American told reporters.

Jones won gold medals in the 100 meters, 200 meters and 1,600- meter relay at the 2000 Sydney Games, and earned bronze in the 400- meter relay and long jump. She didn't qualify for this year's Olympics in the 100 meters or 200 meters, making the long jump her only individual event in Athens.

Jones, who has denied taking performance-enhancing drugs and accused the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency of running a ``kangaroo court,'' received a smattering of applause at Olympic Stadium when her name was announced to the capacity crowd. No boos could be heard.

``I'm just excited to get my competition under way,'' Jones said. ``I've been here cheering on friends and teammates, but it's nice to finally start competing.''

Drug Probe

Jones, who may run in two relays for the U.S., didn't comment on the drug case. While she hasn't been formally accused of doping violations, Jones is still under investigation by the agency.

Jones and her boyfriend, 100-meter record-holder Tim Montgomery, testified before a San Francisco grand jury that indicted four men on steroid-distribution charges in February. Montgomery, who didn't make the U.S. Olympic team, and three other runners accused of using steroids are contesting the lifetime bans USADA is seeking.

The women's long-jump final will be held Friday. Lebedeva has the longest jump in the world this year at 7.33 meters. Jones's best in 2004 was 7.11 meters at last month's U.S. trials.

By Rick Warner
Aug 25, 2004
© Copyright 2004-2005

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