Sprinter Marion Jones Cleared of Doping

Track and field champion Marion Jones was cleared of doping charges Wednesday after results of a second drug test came back negative. The B-sample test result saved Jones from a possible career-ending suspension. The former Olympic champion's A-sample had tested positive in June for the banned oxygen-boosting substance known as EPO.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Track and field star Marion Jones says she is ecstatic that her backup drug test came back negative. The test result was announced late yesterday and it saved Jones from a suspension that could have ended her career. The Olympic champion had tested positive in June for the banned oxygen-boosting substance known as EPO.

NPR's Tom Goldman reports.

TOM GOLDMAN: Marion Jones was thrilled. Many others, including her lawyer Howard Jacobs, were surprised.

Mr. HOWARD JACOBS (Attorney): Because it's not something that happens every day.

GOLDMAN: Indeed, if the public has learned anything from this summer of doping, it's that an initial drug test is almost always confirmed by the backup. It happened in the case of Tour de France champion Floyd Landis. It happened in the case of Olympic 100-meter sprint champion Justin Gatlin. But now, it did not happen in the case of Marion Jones. It's not the first time a urine test for the drug oxygen-booster EPO has shown conflicting A and B results. According to the Chicago Tribune, three doping cases involving triathletes were thrown out last year, after B results failed to confirm the A positives.

Jacobs also is the attorney for Floyd Landis, and as he did in the Landis case, Jacobs criticized the way Jones' A result was revealed before the B result came out.

Mr. JACOBS: Yeah. I mean, this is a perfect illustration of exactly why federations should not be publicizing positive A results or leaking positive A results to the media, and then following that up with pronouncements of guilt.

GOLDMAN: Certainly there have been suspicions of guilt with Marion Jones. Since winning a record five gold medals at the 2000 Olympics, she has spent much of her time fighting off doping allegations. She was linked to the BALCO scandal. Her former husband and boyfriend were both suspended for doping. Jones always has maintained her innocence. And in a statement released last night, she said a scientific process now has demonstrated that she's free of banned performance-enhancing drugs.

Tom Goldman, NPR News.

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