Jones prolongs Athens dream

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The Independent Online

Marion Jones kept her Olympic hopes alive yesterday by coming through long jump qualifying at the United States trials in California, but her performance hardly suggested an athlete likely to make an impact should she reach the Games.

Marion Jones kept her Olympic hopes alive yesterday by coming through long jump qualifying at the United States trials in California, but her performance hardly suggested an athlete likely to make an impact should she reach the Games.

Jones, returning to the stadium in Sacramento two days after failing to earn the chance of defending her Olympic 100m title, produced an underwhelming sequence of jumps, finally claiming a place in tomorrow night's final with an effort of 6.39 metres, well below her season's best of 6.93m, to finish seventh of the 12 qualifiers.

But with three Athens places on offer in each event, the 28-year-old triple Olympic champion should qualify because she is one of only two Americans to have achieved the Olympic A qualifying standard of 6.70m this season.

Jones, who is part of the US Anti-Doping Agency's investigation despite never failing a doping test, is also due to compete in the 200m which starts on Friday.

Four athletes facing doping charges as a result of the investigation into the Balco lab have failed in their Olympic attempts. Jones's partner Tim Montgomery, the world 100m record holder, finished only seventh in the final; Michelle Collins scratched from the 400m, Chryste Gaines failed to qualify in the 100m and Alvin Harrison lost in the 400m semi-finals.

Harrison's brother Calvin, who is also facing doping charges, did reach the 400m final. Regina Jacobs, who tested positive for tetrahydrogestrinone (THG), faces an arbitration hearing on Sunday, the day of the 1500m final, and may not take part.

* Victor Conte, owner of the Balco lab at the centre of the allegations, is being fined more than $772,000 (£416,000), along with the laboratory's former medical director Dr Brian Goldman. The fine is being levied by the California department of health, citing: "wilful and unlawful conduct".

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