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Posted: 22 June 2004 0702 hrs

Athletics: Ex-White House drugs-policy guru defends Marion Jones

    (AFP) LOS ANGELES : A former White House drug-policy guru defended Marion Jones on Monday against accusations of steroid use which were leveled against her by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

    "I don't have a problem with (USADA) targeting high-profile athletes if they are cheating," said Bob Weiner.

    "But you can't target people who are innocent and try to make them guilty, and with the specifics of the Marion Jones case that seems to be happening.''

    USADA is going ahead with a case against the five-time Olympic medallist, based on government evidence from the BALCO steroid case.

    Jones has gone on the offensive against USADA, launching a wide-scale public relations campaign to clear her name. Jones insists she has never used banned substances.

    Weiner, who says he isn't being paid by the Jones' camp, served as spokesman for the White House drug policy under former president Bill Clinton.

    "The ones that are being hurt are the people that would miss out on the joy of sharing in her gold medals," Weiner said.

    Weiner says the anti-doping agency has close links and is influenced by the ruling Republican political party.

    The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the non-profit USADA in 2003 received nearly seven million dollars last year from a grant handed out by the government's National Drug Control Policy.

    Weiner says that in Jones' case, "USADA should make a clear statement that they have no evidence, and until they do, she, like all athletes with no stains, are in the clear to compete.

    "But like all athletes, they are subject to constant re-evaluation based on actual fact. Marion Jones needs justice, not just a hammer, as the right message to America's youth."