Marion Jones tested positive - AGAIN

Team Infidel

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Olympic champion Marion Jones tested positive for the banned blood-boosting drug erythropoietin at the 2006 U.S. Track and Field Championships in June, according to Tribune sources.

The positive EPO result came from the "A" sample test on her urine. The "B" sample is scheduled to be tested Sept. 6, according to a source familiar with the case.

Jones' test was performed on a sample given after she won the 100 meters on June 23 in Indianapolis, her 14th national championship but first sprint title since 2002.

She finished in 11.10 seconds, barely ahead of reigning world champion Lauryn Williams.

Only after the second half of her sample is tested and the result confirmed would the U.S. sprinter be charged with a doping violation. She would face a two-year ban from track and field.

She has repeatedly denied having used performance-enhancing drugs.

This season Jones appeared to have revived a career in steep decline since the birth of her son on June 28, 2003, and reports linking her to the BALCO scandal. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency had investigated Jones extensively in 2003 and 2004 but never charged her with doping.

BALCO founder Victor Conte said in print and in television interviews he had created a doping program for Jones, which she denied. Jones sued Conte seeking $25 million in damages but settled out of court in February 2006 for an undisclosed amount.

"It is unfortunate that the integrity and the confidentiality of the testing process may have been breached, but Marion Jones has always been clear, she has never taken performance-enhancing substances, not now, not ever," attorney Rich Nichols, who represented Jones during the BALCO investigation, said in a statement to Reuters.

"She is always prepared to do whatever it takes to demonstrate that she has never taken performance-enhancing substances."

Tim Montgomery, Jones' former companion and the father of her child, was banned in 2005 based on non-analytical evidence from the BALCO investigation and stripped of the 100-meter world record he set in 2002, when he and Jones were track's fastest couple.

According to published reports, Jones' ex-husband, shot putter C.J. Hunter, told BALCO investigators he had seen Jones inject herself and take a variety of banned substances.

Jones, 30, who won three gold and five total medals at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, failed to make the 2004 Olympic team in the 100, which she had won at the 2000 Games and dominated from 1997 through 2001. Her best time in the 100 last year was 11.28 seconds, more than a half-second from her personal best. This year she had broken 11 seconds twice, topped by a 10.91 in Rome, her fastest time in four years.

The 2006 positive test was first reported by the Washington Post on its Web site Friday evening.

Should Jones be charged with a doping violation, she would become the third star U.S. athlete to face such charges in the last month. Floyd Landis tested positive for exogenous testosterone after winning the Tour de France. Sprinter Justin Gatlin, a three-time Olympic medalist who shares the world record in the 100 meters, tested positive for a steroid at a track meet in April.

Earlier Friday, Jones pulled out of a scheduled appearance at a Golden League meet in in Zurich. Jones "received a phone call from the United States this morning and left for personal reasons," Hansjorg Wirz, the meet organizer and head of the European Athletics Association, told the Associated Press.

He said that she was already on a plane home when she called to withdraw.

She was not invited to this year's Golden League final in Berlin on Sept. 3 because of links to former coach Trevor Graham, who is under investigation by track and field's ruling body and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. Other athletes who trained under Graham also were not invited.

Graham is the coach of Gatlin, who faces a lifetime ban for his failed drug test. Several other athletes coached by Graham have been suspended for doping.

U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Terry Madden and spokesmen for the USA Track and Field and U.S. Olympic Committee declined comment to the Washington Post.