Under suspicion, world's fastest man slows to stop
By Steve Wilstein| Associated Press
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Tim Montgomery still doesn't get it.

Even as he gazed at the giant scoreboard, showing the hard evidence of his defeat in the 100 meters in the U.S. Olympic track and field trials, he blamed the loss on other people - everybody pestering him with questions about doping.

His Olympic chase finished, he strode from the track staring at the board Sunday night as if in disbelief that he finished seventh behind reigning gold medalist Maurice Greene.

The lighted numbers didn't lie: Greene, 9.91 seconds; Justin Gatlin, 9.92; Shawn Crawford, 9.93. Skip down a few names from those three Athens-bound runners and there was Montgomery's time: 10.13.

A day earlier at the Cal State-Sacramento track, Montgomery's girlfriend, five-time Olympic medalist Marion Jones, who also is under suspicion of doping, failed to qualify for the women's 100.

Imagine the quiet cheers among the folks at the U.S. Olympic Committee headquarters and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. It's not often they get a chance to raise a toast to what they must suspect is poetic justice.

Outside the stadium, Montgomery brushed past reporters.

"This is the reason I didn't win: I've got y'all on my back," Montgomery said. "I have to deal with y'all every day."

That is so far from the truth that anything else Montgomery says in the days ahead - about his crumbling career, the doping charges against him and the questions surrounding Jones - should be viewed skeptically.

Montgomery is living in denial if he thinks the reason he finished so far behind Greene is because reporters have been asking him a few questions. How about the questions he faced before the federal grand jury last year, or the probe by the USADA against him and others?

How about the possibility that he's not nearly the same runner now that he might have been if he had been juiced up on performance-enhancing drugs when he claimed the title of world's fastest man two years ago?

"This ain't my last race, man," Montgomery insisted.

Well, it just might have been.

The world record holder in the 100 - pending further investigation of the doping allegations - faces a lifetime ban by the USADA. If Montgomery is found guilty, he probably also will forfeit the record of 9.78 seconds he set in 2002 and see it revert to Greene's 9.79.

Montgomery spared the USOC a ton of trouble, not to mention a potentially huge embarrassment, by failing to qualify for Athens. Now the committee doesn't have to worry about trying to kick him off the team or about giving back a medal he might have won if he had qualified for the Olympics.

American athletes suspected of cheating would taint the whole U.S. contingent if they compete in Athens. A few might get there, but at least one is done.

Proving the case in court against Montgomery won't be easy because he has never failed a drug test and has claimed publicly that he hasn't used banned drugs. He has taken his case directly to the international Court of Arbitration for Sport, where the decision is binding.

Yet Montgomery told a federal grand jury last year that he used human growth hormone and a then-undetectable steroid, according to testimony illegally leaked a few weeks ago to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The USADA wants to review those statements and the testimony of Chryste Gaines, Michelle Collins and Alvin Harrison - all charged by the agency with using performance-enhancing drugs.

A federal judge last week rejected the USADA's bid to review the sealed testimony, but that doesn't mean the doping agency plans on letting the athletes off the hook without vigorously pursuing other evidence and witnesses.

Greene had called Montgomery "the luckiest man in the world" because his two fastest times, including his world record, came with the highest wind allowable for record purposes.

"Well, with the problems that he's going through," Greene said last week, "I think his luck ran out. I know he's very stressed right now."

Maybe it was stress that did in Montgomery or maybe it was the absence of something that fueled his speed before the bust of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative last summer. Until all the facts are in, there are only allegations and suspicions.

Montgomery surely is a different runner this year. He came into the trials with only the sixth-fastest time by an American in 2004 - 10.08 - and he didn't get any faster in Sacramento.

Jones has two more chances to make the Olympic team - the long jump and the 200. She's adamantly claimed that she's always competed cleanly. She might be telling the truth, but she remains under investigation by the USADA.

It's not hard to picture the doping agency and the USOC quietly rooting against her, hoping she will fade away as quickly as Montgomery.

From the Tuesday, July 13, 2004 edition of the Augusta Chronicle


Augusta-area Top Jobs
Warehouse ~TRAINEES~ Call (706)868-6800 Run FORKLIFT to load, sort & store pallets. FULL TIME! Permanent Position with Columbia County Co. Pro Resources $190 J#3414 GREAT BENEFITS! $10.00-13.00... (more)
Healthcare Facility Hiring MEDICAL INSPECTION $-13 | hr + Full Benefits Pkg. >ENTRY LEVEL< Call us at 706.868.6800 Inspect, clean & assemble medical instruments. Pro Resources $190 J#236 FULL TIME, Pe... (more)
Armed Security Guard Duty $-12 | hr Call 706.868.6800 Conduct armed loot and vehicle patrol (interior & exterior), control access, monitor CCTV and alarm systems. >>Full Time!<< Pro Resources $190... (more)

© 2010 The Augusta Chronicle|Terms of service|About our ads|Help|Contact us|Subscribe|Local business listings