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Jones drugs shame overshadows build-up to Beijing

After becoming the most successful female athlete at a single Games, Jones had seen the clouds of doping gather until they irrevocably tainted what should have been a glorious career.

india Updated: Jan 09, 2008 11:44 IST

The world of athletics was rocked by US sprinting legend Marion Jones' admission that she took performance-enhancing drugs at the 2000 Sydney Olympics where she bagged five medals, three of which were gold.

Her startling revelations overshadowed a World Championships in Osaka, Japan, that featured notable doubles by American sprinter Tyson Gay and Kenyan-born US middle distance runner Bernard Lagat (1500m, 5000m).

After becoming the most successful female athlete at a single Games, Jones had seen the clouds of doping gather until they irrevocably tainted what should have been a glorious career.

Athletics' world governing body, the IAAF, handed Jones a two-year ban and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) withdrew her Olympic medals after she admitted doping.

Jones, who is now retired, told a US federal court that she had used the designer steroid THG, or "the clear", from September 2000 to July 2001, ending years of angry denials of doping allegations.

Jones' confession came as she pleaded guilty to lying to a federal agent about her drug use, a charge that could see her jailed.

In a black year for drugs in athletics, Frenchman Naman Keita, the 2000 Olympics bronze medallist in 400m hurdles, was also banned for two years after testing positive for testosterone.

And Italian Giuseppe Gibilisco, the 2000 Olympics bronze medallist and former world champion pole vaulter, was accused of working with Carlo Santuccione, an Italian doctor under investigation for supplying high-profile sportsmen with doping products.

Briton Christine Ohugurou, however, rebounded from her ban for missing three doping tests, which she put down to absentmindedness, to scorch to victory in the 400m at the worlds and then succeded in overturning a decision by the British Olympic Association to ban her from her all future Olympic Games.

This opens the way for Ohugurou to compete not only in Beijing next year but, age and form permitting, in her home city of London in 2012 in what would be a considerable PR boost for organisers.

At the world championships, it was the United States that dominated, winning 14 gold, four silver and eight bronze medals for a total haul of 26.

Kenya came second with five golds thanks to their incomparable distance runners, while Russia was third.

China have made noises about wanting to overhaul the Americans at the top of the medals table in Beijing, but they won't be making much of a dent on the track and field after finishing a distant 11th in Osaka with a single gold to Liu Xiang in the 110m hurdles.

In a meet where no world records fell, Tyson Gay was the standout performer.

Gay, 25, won the 100m in 9.85 seconds, then captured the 200m in 19.76sec and ran the third leg on a relay that was triumphant in 37.78 seconds to cap a breakthrough season and set himself up as the potential star of the Olympics.

His key sprint rival, Asafa Powell of Jamaica, had a disappointing championships, finishing third in the blue riband event, but he rebounded to set a new world record of 9.74sec in Rieti in early September.

The imperious Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia won the men's 10,000m for a third straight time but pulled out of the 5000m.

That paved the way to the top of the podium for Kenyan-born American Lagat whose double in the 5000m and 1500m has only been matched in world competition at the Olympics by legendary Finn Paavo Nurmi in 1924 and Moroccan great Hicham El Guerrouj in 2004.

Another Ethiopian, the flawless Olympic champion Meseret Defar, timed her run to perfection to win her first 5000m world title.

It was a fitting crown for Defar, who has been in startling form on the track, winning all her races this season and setting two world records (5000m and 3000m indoor) and a world best over the unrecognised distance of two miles.

One athlete who failed to make the cut for the worlds was American 400m runner Sanya Richardson.

She made up for the disappointment by sharing the Golden League jackpot of one million dollars along with Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva after each won their disciplines in all six meetings across Europe.