Jones gets distraction

Sprinter's husband tests positive for banned drug

Posted: Monday, September 25, 2000

SYDNEY, Australia -- The main event of the Sydney Games -- Marion Jones' pursuit of five Olympic golds -- suddenly has a sideshow, courtesy of her shot-putting husband C.J. Hunter's pre-Olympic positive test for steroid use.

As the U.S. women athletes continued their strong Sydney run with both the softball team and tennis star Venus Williams closing in on gold medals Monday, it was the spouse of America's No. 1 female Olympian making uneasy headlines.

International track officials confirmed the positive test for Hunter, the shot put world champion who pulled out of the Olympics with an injured knee on Sept 11. He was in Sydney as a credentialed coach for his wife, who has already won the women's 100 meters.

Hunter tested positive for nandrolone, which helps athletes gain strength and muscle bulk.

''I know what's going on and I am aware of the allegations and am going to defend myself vigorously,'' Hunter told NBC. There were no reports linking Jones to the use of banned performance enhancers.

n SOFTBALL: Going, going ... the U.S. softball team isn't going anyplace yet.

A line-drive, 10th-inning home run Monday by Stacey Nuveman guaranteed the softball team a medal with a 3-0 victory over China. The worst the defending gold medalist Americans can do now is take a bronze.

Even that seemed unlikely a few days ago, when a three-game losing streak in the preliminary round pushed them to the brink of extinction. The Americans now play Australia, with the winner taking on Japan for the gold medal.

n TENNIS: Two U.S. teammates, just one winner -- and no surprise, that winner was Venus Williams.

U.S. Open and Wimbledon champion Williams, undefeated in her last 31 matches, advanced Monday (Sunday night EDT) to the Olympic finals by knocking off Monica Seles, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3. Williams clinched at least a silver with her victory.

Afterward, Williams said taking a gold medal was probably bigger than her Grand Slam victories. ''It seems the ultimate thing is to have a gold,'' she said.

The survivor of the all-American semifinal now faces No. 10 Elena Dementieva of Russia, who defeated unseeded Australian Jelena Dokic 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.

n DRUG TESTING: IOC drug chief Prince Alexandre de Merode accused U.S. track and field officials of covering up five positive drug tests before the 1988 Seoul Olympics. He did not provide names.

''It was a decade before I went to work at USA Track & Field. I have no idea whether it's true. I don't understand why he wouldn't have mentioned it before. I can't possibly comment on it,'' said Craig Masback, executive director the American track federation.

The USOC said that those cases had been made public 12 years ago by Robert Voy, then head of the American committee's drug office.

n TRACK: Three-time sprint gold medalist Gail Devers is after the one that got away. Devers, one of the world's top hurdlers for the last decade, has never won an Olympic gold in the hurdles. On Monday (Sunday night EDT), Devers won her first heat in the 100-meter hurdles -- the first step toward filling that empty spot on her mantle.

Joining Devers in the second round were U.S. teammates Sharon Couch and Melissa Morrison.

Three Americans qualified Monday (Sunday night EDT) in the 1,500, but they will have their work cut out in the Olympic finals. Stanford teammates Michael Stember and Gabe Jennings, along with U.S. runner Jason Pyrah, made the cut in preliminaries.

They will face Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco, the world record holder, who has not lost at the distance since 1997.

Michael Johnson, defending gold medalist in the 400, survived a wet track to qualify for the finals late Monday.

Australia's Cathy Freeman, running nine days after she lighted the torch in the Olympic Stadium, won her heat in the women's 400.

n DIVING: America's momentum at the diving pool continued Monday (Sunday night EDT) as Mark Ruiz and Troy Dumais moved into the semifinals of 3-meter springboard. Defending Olympic champion Xiong Ni of China was the semifinal leader, with Ruiz fourth and Dumais seventh.

On Sunday, Laura Wilkinson ended America's 36-year skein of diving futility by shocking the defending champion Chinese on the 10-meter platform.

n WATER POLO: The American men, led by four goals from Chris Humbert, kept their medal hopes alive with a 12-8 victory over the winless Netherlands Monday (Sunday night EDT). The first U.S. win after two losses in Sydney made it likely that the Americans will advance into the medal round.

n SAILING: Two Seattle brothers captured the first U.S. sailing medal of the games by taking their 49er to a bronze. Jonathan and Charlie McKee earned their medal with a strong finish Monday (Sunday night EDT) in Sydney Harbor.

n SOCCER: The biggest American star scored the biggest goal in the team's biggest game thus far at the games. Mia Hamm, knocked around by defenders throughout the game, knocked Brazil out of the Olympic soccer final with her goal in the 60th minute Sunday.

The score, Hamm's 127th in international games, stood up as the defending gold medalists notched a 1-0 semifinal victory. Goalie Siri Mullinix made sure that goal would be enough with a super save 10 minutes later on a shot by Brazil's Roseli.

The Americans take on Norway, which defeated Germany 2-1, in the final Thursday (Wednesday night EDT). The United States already beat Norway 2-0 in an opening round game.

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