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  • Fight Against Doping: Marion Jones Sentencing, Austrian Appeal, Merlene Ottey


    01/10/08

    Marion Jones will have her day in court on Friday. (Getty Images)  
    Marion Jones Sentencing Day Away
     
    On Friday, disgraced Olympic sprinter Marion Jones Thompson learns whether she will head to prison for lying to federal prosecutors about her steroids use. She pleaded guilty in October and could face a year or more in jail. She’ll appear in U.S. District Court in White Plains, New York, a suburb of New York City.

    Her lawyers have asked Judge Kenneth Karas to sentence her with probation, avoiding jail.

    In a memo to the judge, her lawyers said “she has been cast from American hero to national disgrace. The public scorn, from a nation that once adored her, and her fall from grace have been severe punishments... She has been stripped of her gold medals, her accomplishments, her wealth and her public standing”.

    Prosecutors said that her plea agreement should warrant a punishment of only six months in jail. However, Judge Karas has asked attorneys whether Jones should be sentenced to consecutive terms because she also faces unrelated charges in a check-kiting scheme. That case ensnared her former partner Tim Montgomery, father of her oldest child and a convicted drug cheat in the eyes of the IAAF. He awaits sentencing on the check charges.

    Jones, 32, won five medals at the Sydney Olympics, three of them gold. She surrendered them to the IOC days after her guilty plea. She now goes by the name Marion Jones Thompson following her marriage last year to sprinter Obadele Thompson, with whom she has a child.

    China Claims Lowest Level of Positive Drug Tests in Years

    Chinese officials told state media that only 15 drug tests out of more than 10 thousand were positive for performance enhancing drugs.
    "We always take a zero-tolerance stand toward doping cheats and will try our best to make sure that we send a clean Chinese squad to the Beijing Olympic Games" Liu Peng said.  


    Liu Peng, head of the State General Administration of Sports said “the positive rate is less than 0.2 per cent, which stands as a new low since China started to conduct doping tests.”

    Chinese sports leaders have made a concerted effort to crack down on doping ahead of the Beijing Olympics.

    CAS Upholds Lifetime Bans as Turin Fallout Continues

    The three Austrian Nordic skiers who appealed their lifetime bans to the Court of Arbitration for Sport have lost.

    Johannes Eder, Jurgen Pinter and Martin Tauber were involved in a doping scandal at the Turin Olympics and were given lifetime bans from the IOC.

    The trio launched their appeal with a fourth member of the Austrian team, Roland Diethard, who had his lifetime ban reduced to a suspension until after the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

    CAS found the skiers to be in “possession of prohibited methods”, and “complicity to violate antidoping rules”.

    Earlier in the week, WADA sent a request to the Austrian Minister of the Interior to investigate a laboratory in Vienna that was suspected of supplying blood for blood doping.

    The letter, which was written by ex-WADA President Richard Pound says “we have recently been informed by reliable sources that a company called ‘Human Plasma’ is operating from Vienna. According to our information, this company processes blood in order to prepare ‘dry blood’, which can then be re-injected as opposed to be transfused.”

    On Tuesday, the Austrian ski federation unveiled its database of biological information collected from all 1100 skiers.

    The database is designed to monitor skiers biological changes over time, similar the biological passports the International Cycling Union is adopting.

    "This new system is a great help in our fight against doping in the sport, but it won't enable us to completely exclude happenings like at the Turin Olympics," ski federation president Peter Schroecksnadel said. "The database can't provide a fool from taking banned substances."

    Hungarian Olympic Champion to Miss Beijing

    Gold medal swimmer Agnes Kovacs said she would not compete in Beijing because her name has been besmirched over allegations of doping.

    At a press conference this week, Kovacs said “doping tests are of course necessary to keep sports clean, but this needs to be done humanely. It doesn't matter who is at fault for this because my name is now associated with doping. I will not take part in the Olympics as a competitor;
    Martina Hingis took cocaine during her last Wimbledon competition. (Getty Images)  
    however, it would also be odd for me not to compete any more.”

    Scientist Says Ottey Test Rejected by Mistake

    A scientist who handled a 1999 drug test for Jamaican sprinter Merlene Ottey says a mistake was made clearing the runner Ottey of a positive test.

    ”The sample shouldn’t have been corrected at all”, said Christiane Ayotte, the head of the lab in Montreal where the testing was carried out.

    ”And when they did, they used the wrong formula. It was a very stupid mistake. They turned it upside down. The problem is that no one from the IAAF side was able to correct this formula during the Arbitration. Later the arbitrators wrote that they were misled by the Ottey expert, but then it was too late”.

    ...Briefs

    ...Tennis great Martina Hingis was banned from professional tennis for two years by the International Tennis Federation after testing positive for cocaine. Hingis has already retired and will not appeal the ruling.

    ...Olympic 100m champion Justin Gatlin will appeal his four-year ban from competition. Gatlin tested positive for drugs in 2006. He was originally suspended for eight years but was reduced to four.

    ...Canadian rower Christopher Jarvis is suspended from competition for three months for failing to communicate his whereabouts to the Canadian Center for Ethics in Sports. Testing-eligible athletes are required to inform the center where they are living and training so drug tests can be carried out.

    ...The International Sailing Federation announced their Registered Testing Pool of sailors for the first six months of the year. The list can be viewed here.

    ...The Jamaican Parliament is moving quickly to create a national anti doping organization before the Beijing Olympics. The Parliament is pushing through legislation which will enact the WADA Code and UNESCO treaty on doping.


    Written by Ed Hula III.

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