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Marion Jones disqualified from races

23 November 2007

Marion Jones was formally disqualified on Friday from all competitions since Sept 1. 2000, including the Sydney Olympics where she won five medals, after admitting last month to taking banned drugs.

The International Association of Athletics Federations' governing council ruled that Jones's results be annulled after she confessed to taking the designer steroid tetrahydrogestrinone before the 2000 Games.

Jones, 32, won gold medals in the 100, 200 and 4x400 meters relay and bronze in the long jump and 4x100 relay at the 2000 Games.

IAAF spokesman Nick Davies said the Council would ask the International Olympic Committee to disqualify the U.S. women's 4x100 and 4x400 meter relay teams from the Sydney Games.

But the governing body stopped short of recommending that controversial Greek sprinter Katerina Thanou, who was the silver medalist in the 100 behind Jones, be awarded the gold medal.

"The IOC will be sent any information on Thanou that we might have," Davies said.

Thanou was given a two-year suspension for missing three dope tests, the last on the eve of the 2004 Games in Athens.

"We can't decide not to give her the medal," Davies said. "We will inform them of the decision but it's really up to the IOC. They will decide what to do."

The U.S. Olympic Committee, whose chairman Peter Ueberroth last month urged the American relay members to return their medals, said it supported the IAAF decision.

"Given the recent admission by Ms Jones that cheating was involved, we agree: the medals should be returned," USOC spokesman Darryl Seibel told Reuters via e-mail. "This has been our position throughout."

In a statement, USA Track & Field drew attention to the relay question, saying that it "supports the fight against doping and efforts made to right the wrongs of the past. "We understand that the fate of the relay results at the 2000 Olympic Games is a very complex matter, and we appreciate the care and consideration the IAAF has given it.

"We await the IOC's decision in the matter."

Thanou is likely to benefit from Jones's disqualifications elsewhere. The 32-year-old Greek is likely to be elevated to the silver medal position in the 100 at the 2001 World Championships, where she originally finished third behind Jones.

Bahamian Debbie Ferguson McKenzie, originally the silver medalist in the 200, is likely to be upgraded to gold in the longer sprint.

The IAAF will also request that Jones return all prize money awarded since September 2000, estimated at $700,000.

"We will ask for the money to be paid back," IAAF general secretary Pierre Weiss told reporters.

Jones, who has formally retired from athletics, declared bankruptcy earlier this year. Davies said if she decided to make a comeback she would not be allowed to compete until all the money was returned.

She has also pleaded guilty to two counts of providing false statements to federal investigators and will be sentenced in January.

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