Current weather

  • Scattered clouds
  • 54°
    Scattered clouds

Jones hires Johnson's ex-coach, IAAF freaks

Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2003

LONDON -- Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery are under pressure to explain why they're working with Ben Johnson's former coach.

Five-time Olympic medalist Jones and 100-meter record holder Montgomery left coach Trevor Graham last month.

They since have been seen training in Toronto with Charlie Francis, Johnson's coach when he failed a drug test and was stripped of his gold medal and world record after winning the 100 at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

Now USA Track & Field and the International Association of Athletics Federations are demanding an explanation.

''This is about the reputation and image of the sport. This is raising so many eyebrows and causing so much public debate and interest. We believe it is our duty to get involved,'' IAAF general secretary Istvan Gyulai said in an interview Wednesday.

''Marion and Tim are idols to many millions of people around the world. The fans deserve some clarification, some explanation. Marion and Tim are high-earning athletes who should feel responsibility for the well-being of the sport.''

Francis was banned for life by Canada's track and field federation in 1989. He can't work with members of Canada's national team but is allowed to work with other athletes.

Francis testified before a 1989 Canadian commission looking into drug use by athletes that he introduced Johnson to anabolic steroids eight years earlier because of the need to keep up with the competition.

The man who chaired that inquiry, Charles Dubin, told The Canadian Press on Wednesday that Francis should be cleared to work with top runners again.

''Mr. Francis has paid a high penalty with respect to his past mistakes. He is a very talented coach, and in my opinion, having regard to the passage of time and the truthful manner in which he assisted my inquiry, it is appropriate to allow him once again to work with elite track and field athletes,'' Dubin said.

Gyulai said an IAAF committee would meet Friday to consider what action to take, including the possibility of sending someone to Toronto to speak with Jones and Montgomery.

IAAF president Lamine Diack wants to arrange a meeting with Jones to try to persuade her to stop training with Francis.

''It does not mean that Marion Jones is going to take doping to improve,'' Diack told The Times of London. ''I don't expect that, she is a nice girl. But it's not very good for her image and for the image of our sport.''

USA Track & Field also is getting involved.

''We have initiated discussions with the athletes and their representatives,'' USATF spokeswoman Jill Geer said Wednesday. ''The discussions are ongoing. Any time track and field is portrayed in a negative light, it's cause for concern.''

Organizers of Europe's elite Golden League series said they might consider not inviting the two sprinters to their meets this year because of links to Francis.

When Jones announced in December she was leaving Graham, she said she would work with little-known Canadian Derek Hansen.

''Why change a coach after so much success?'' Gyulai said. ''It's difficult to understand. ''

Gyulai said the IAAF had been unable to contact the sprinters directly. He said the federation reached their agent, Charles Wells, who promised to issue a statement soon.

A recording on Wells' voice mail said he would be away until Feb. 4. A phone message left Wednesday was not returned immediately.

Jones was unbeaten last year in finals at 100, 200 and 400 meters. She is divorced from former shot-putter C.J. Hunter, who was suspended and didn't compete at the Sydney Olympics after testing positive for steroids in 2000.

Jones is now romantically involved with Montgomery, who broke Maurice Greene's record in the 100 last year.

''It's such a fantastic promotion for athletics to have such a successful couple -- the world's fastest couple,'' Gyulai said. ''But can you imagine if we had a press conference before their next meet? Nineteen out of 20 questions would be about'' Francis.



CONTACT US

  • 150 Trading Bay Rd, Kenai, AK 99611
  • Switchboard: 907-283-7551
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-283-3584
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-283-3299
  • Business Fax: 907-283-3299
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-335-1257
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback

ADVERTISING

SUBSCRIBER SERVICES

SOCIAL NETWORKING

MORRIS ALASKA NEWS