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Jones Urged to Ignore Criticism

January 31, 2003|Helene Elliott

An athlete who trained with controversial coach Charlie Francis said Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery should ignore criticism they've received for working with Francis, who admitted he supplied steroids to sprinter Ben Johnson before Johnson won the gold medal in the 100 meters at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

"There are only a handful of coaches in the world who can coach someone at that level. Charlie Francis knows as much technically as anyone in the world," said the athlete, who requested anonymity. "That gets overlooked over and over again. With all the corruption that's in [international sports] organizations, they're picking on athletes who are trying to get better....

"What's missing is people don't go to Charlie Francis for steroids. They go because he knows what he's doing. He attracts attention because of his past, and you won't go there and use steroids because you know you're going to get watched closely."

Officials of the International Assn. of Athletics Federations and USA Track and Field have recently expressed concern over Jones' and Montgomery's association with Francis, who was banned from working with elite Canadian athletes but has worked with athletes from other sports.

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