Jones pulls out of World Cup, finished for season

Thursday, September 14th 2006, 1:19 pm
By: News On 6

Marion Jones pulled out of this weekend's World Cup in Athletics in Athens and won't race again this season.

The five-time Olympic medalist said her conditioning wasn't good enough for her to compete at a high level after missing more than a month of competition following her positive test for the banned endurance enhancer EPO. The 30-year-old sprinter was cleared to run again when her second sample tested negative.

``I was in top condition when my season was interrupted more than three weeks ago by the leak of my positive test,'' Jones said in a statement released by attorney Rich Nichols on Thursday.

``I was ready but missed top August competitions in Zurich, Monaco and Brussels and it has been more than six weeks since I raced,'' she said. ``Unfortunately, I just don't feel that my condition is there.''

Her coach, Steve Riddick, had said all along it would be better for Jones to call it quits for the season, then come back strong for next year's world championships in Osaka, Japan.

``I am honored to have been selected to compete on the United States World Cup team,'' Jones said, ``but I have always said that if I am not ready to compete in top form, I won't get on the track.''

Jones also withdrew from what was to have been her season-ending meet in Shanghai.

The positive EPO test came at the U.S. championships in Indianapolis on June 23, when she won the 100 meters, her 14th national title but first since 2002.

She withdrew from the Zurich meet when word of the test results were leaked to the media. With the second test negative, international anti-doping officials called for a probe into the EPO testing process.

In 2000 in Sydney, Jones became the first woman to win five Olympic track medals _ three of them gold. But she has been dogged by doping suspicion despite vehement denials she ever used banned performance enhancers.

Jones took 2003 off to have a baby and struggled through 2004. She competed only in the long jump and 400-meter relay at the Athens Games, failing to medal in either.

Another difficult, injury-plague season followed in 2005, but she came back strong this year. Only Jamaican Sherone Simpson has run faster this year in the 100 than Jones' 10.91-second clocking in Rome on July 14. Her last race was July 28, when she finished second to Simpson in London.