Jones slow but makes 200 final

Saturday, July 17, 2004

The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Marion Jones was back on the track Friday night, and looking unbelievably ordinary again.

Jones faded to last in her five-woman qualifying heat in the 200 meters at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials, but still advanced to today's semifinals because six runners withdrew from the race.

That meant only one of the 19 women entered was eliminated.

Jones' time of 22.93 seconds was 10th-fastest. Maybe Jones knew that as she slowed down the straightaway finishing far behind the heat's winner Inger Miller. As has been the case throughout the trials, Jones left the track without talking to reporters.

Jones returned to the scene of her emotional triumph Thursday night, when she won the long jump at 23 feet, 4 inches, the second-best mark in the world this year and her best since 1998. But her speed on the track was as unimpressive as it was last weekend, when she finished fifth in the 100 finals and failed to earn the right to defend her gold medal in the event in Athens.

Jones also won the gold in the 200 in Sydney, where her five track medals were an Olympic record.

At the start Friday night, she flashed her trademark smile when her name was announced. But once the starting gun went off, her struggles were apparent.

Wearing all white, the same color she wore in the 100 preliminaries a week ago, Jones faded over the last 80 meters, almost slowing to a trot at the end.

Jones has weathered persistent suspicion as the subject of an investigation by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. Her boyfriend Tim Montgomery is facing a lifetime ban from the sport for his alleged infractions based on evidence from the criminal probe into the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative. Jones has not been formally accused of any wrongdoing and has vehemently denied every using performance-enhancing drugs.

Jones' 200 was her first in two years. She took last year off for the birth of her son.

LaTasha Colander, the trials' 100-meter champion, and Chryste Gaines, were among those who withdrew.

The lone sprinter who ran but failed to advance was Amandi Rhett of Georgia Tech, who was timed in 24.03.

Gaines, who failed to make the finals in the 100 last weekend, is one of four track athletes accused of doping violations based on evidence gathered in the BALCO probe. She and the other three are contesting those charges.

Torri Edwards, who acknowledged this week that she had a positive test for a banned stimulant this year, was the fastest of the qualifiers at 22.60. Edwards said she took the stimulant inadvertently because it was an additive to the glucose she ingested while not feeling well at a meet in Martinique. A hearing on her case is to be held Monday, and she could be banned from the sport for two years, knocking her off the Olympic team.

Shawn Crawford, Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay ran three of the four fastest times in the world this year in the qualifying heats of the men's 200.

Crawford ran a world's best 19.88, the fastest qualifying heat in trials' history. Gatlin ran 20.06 and Gay, the NCAA champion from Arkansas, had a personal-best 20.07.

Gatlin and Crawford already are on the U.S. Olympic team with second- and third-place finishes, respectively, in last weekend's 100 behind winner Maurice Greene. Greene was entered in the 200 but, as expected, didn't show up for his heat.

The competition resumed as more reports of positive drug tests dribbled out through the media leaks.

Hurdler Larry Wade tested positive for a steroid in an out-of-competition sampling, a source speaking on the condition of anonymity told The Associated Press.

Wade, the third-fastest in the world this year in the 110-meter hurdles, withdrew from the trials on Friday after injuring his left arm in a fall while working out on Thursday, his agent Emanuel Hudson told meet officials.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post and Chicago Tribune reported Friday that sprinter Mickey Grimes also had a positive result for a steroid in an out-of-competition test this year. Grimes, who failed to make the finals in the 100 last weekend, won his qualifying heat in the 200 at 20.39 -- the second-slowest of the five heats. Grimes left the track without talking to reporters.

Grimes was stripped of his gold medal in the 100 at last year's Pan American Games after testing positive for the stimulant ephedrine.

Edwards, Wade and Grimes are all part of the HSInternational running group.

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