Athletics: Jones' split with Francis welcomed

By Kieran Daley
Friday 07 February 2003 01:00

The International Association of Athletics Federations has welcomed Marion Jones' decision to sever ties with Charlie Francis, the controversial Canadian coach.

Francis was banned for life from coaching Canadian athletes because of his links to Ben Johnson, who was stripped of his Olympic gold medal after testing positive for steroids at the Seoul Olympics in 1988.

Jones claimed she had just been trying to "improve" her career by consulting Francis over the last couple of months.

"I have a responsibility to the sport, but I have a responsibility to myself to want to get better and improve my technique," the triple Olympic champion said. "And that's all I was trying to do. Improve my career and be on the same level as every other sprinter in the world who gets advice from this man, and just because it's not public or they're not the No 1 female athlete in the world, nobody cares."

Jones' association with Francis had drawn criticism throughout the sport, and the president of the IAAF, Lamine Diack, said: "It is not very good for... the image of our sport. It's unfortunate, but life is unfortunate sometimes." Yesterday an IAAF statement said: "We are glad that she has acted not only in her own best interests but for the good of the sport."

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