Marion Jones passed a lie detector test in which she was asked if she had ever taken performance-enhancing drugs, her attorneys announced yesterday in another public attempt to persuade the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to drop its case against the five-time Olympic medal winner.
In a test administered by certified polygraph examiner Ronald R. Homer in her attorney Joseph Burton's San Francisco office Wednesday, Jones was determined to have truthfully answered two questions in which she denied ever using performance-enhancing drugs, Burton said during a conference call.
"The passing of the polygraph supports fully the position Marion has taken all this time, that she never, ever has used performance-enhancing drugs from anybody at any time," Burton said. "This matter should be over if there really is any fairness in the process."
Burton distributed a letter from Homer in which Homer stated "it is my professional opinion that Ms. Jones was truthful when answering." Homer also stated that another certified polygraph examiner conducted a blind analysis and rendered the same opinion.
Jones responded no when asked if she had ever personally used performance-enhancing drugs, and if she was lying about any personal use of performance-enhancing drugs.
In a statement, USADA said "we have repeatedly said that anyone who possesses what they believe to be reliable information, related to drug use in sports, should send us that information. All credible information will receive the appropriate consideration."
Athletes Say No to USADA
With written responses from the four U.S. track athletes facing possible drug charges due today, all have rejected USADA's request that they obtain their own grand jury testimony from the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) investigation.
Representatives for Tim Montgomery, Chryste Gaines, Michelle Collins and Alvin Harrison denounced USADA's appeal for the secret, protected testimony, with one calling it "inappropriate" and another, a "p.r. stunt."
Collins's attorney, Brian Getz, said he demanded in his response to USADA that the agency explain its basis for asserting knowledge that his client even appeared before the grand jury, which he said neither he nor she had ever acknowledged.
"It's a secret, sealed proceeding," Getz said yesterday. "For USADA to come out and say, 'We have information that an athlete testified before the grand jury,' Whoa, where did that come from? . . . Who told them?"
USADA Director of Legal Affairs Travis T. Tygart did not comment.
Two sources claiming knowledge of some of the grand jury testimony said several track athletes admitted wrongdoing when they testified. Some people close to the case speculated that USADA, tipped off to that information, hoped to use the information to corner those athletes in arbitration hearings.
"This is a [public relations] stunt by USADA, and not something we are going to waste time on," Montgomery's attorney, Cris Arguedas, said in a statement. "Federal law prohibits the release of grand jury testimony, and we are aware of no procedures that would permit its release. Certainly, it is not something that any witness before the grand jury has any control over, and USADA knows that."
The attorneys for Jones -- who has not received a notification letter but remains under investigation -- filed a motion in federal court in the Northern District of California to obtain her testimony, saying it would provide evidence that she has done nothing wrong.
Though federal law does not restrict witnesses from talking about their grand jury testimony, it prohibits the disclosure of transcripts except in rare circumstances. Lawyers argue that there is no legitimate need in USADA's proceedings, and that USADA should rely on its evidence in its attempted prosecutions.
Edward G. Williams, who said he was in discussions with Harrison about handling his case, said he would not encourage pursuit of the testimony. Williams pointed out that the cost to travel to the district in which the grand jury proceedings took place to file a motion there would be a substantial burden for some athletes.
"It's completely inappropriate," said Cameron Myler, Gaines's attorney. "The grand jury is a secret proceeding for a reason."
In his response to USADA, Getz said he also was contesting a calendar supposedly documenting Collins's drug use that USADA had cited in its letter to her. Getz called the calendars "vague" and said there was no evidence the calendars mean what USADA alleged or that Collins followed the regime supposedly documented by the calendars. He said USADA alleged that a number of substances -- testosterone/epitestosterone, norbolethone, trenbolone and THG -- were all known as "L" or "Lotion" and "C" or "Cream" and that "it is impossible to decipher the substances" Collins allegedly used.
Jacobs Files an Appeal
Williams filed his appeal of the case involving middle-distance runner Regina Jacobs, who tested positive last year for the designer steroid THG, with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. Oral argument is set for Tuesday. . . .
The White House on Wednesday rejected the request of BALCO owner Victor Conte that President Bush intercede in his plea bargain negotiations, with press secretary Scott McClellan saying it was a matter for the U.S. Attorney's Office.