Rome to defy Jones deal

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The Independent Online

Organisers of the Golden Gala in Rome are planning to defy an agreement among European promoters this summer by inviting Marion Jones to compete.

Organisers of the Golden Gala in Rome are planning to defy an agreement among European promoters this summer by inviting Marion Jones to compete.

The Euro-Meetings Group, whose members organise nearly 50 events, recommended in March that no athletes involved in the Balco doping investigation should be signed up until the case is concluded. Jones and her husband, the world 100 metres record holder Tim Montgomery, are among a number of athletes being questioned.

But a spokesman for the Golden Gala - whose director, Luigi D'Onofrio, was at the March meeting - denied yesterday that Jones would be turned away from the Olympic Stadium on 8 July. "We are not saying 'no'," he said. "It's true we have been talking to Marion Jones, although I can't say whether she will appear because it is too early to say." He could not confirm that an offer is being made to Montgomery.

A spokesman for British promoters Fast Track, who endured torrid publicity last season when they honoured an existing invitation for Jones to compete in Gateshead, said that Rome would be "in a minority" among European meetings.

"The general feeling at the meeting was that people did not want to invite Balco athletes to what are supposed to be opportunities to put the sport in the shop window," the spokesman added. "There's no presumption of guilt, but unfortunately they carry far too much baggage to be invited to our meetings."

According to the rules of the International Association of Athletics Federations, promoters are free to invite whoever they choose to their meetings.

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