NEW YORK – With each question Marion Jones (search) gets about steroids, her denials become more emphatic. She took everything a step further Sunday, saying she would go to court if the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (search) bars her from competing in the Athens Olympics without a positive drug test.
USADA has the power to bring a drug case against an athlete in lieu of a positive test when the agency has "other reason to believe that a potential doping violation has occurred, such as admitted doping," according to its rules.
Jones, speaking at the U.S. Olympic Team Media Summit that also featured swimmers Michael Phelps, Gary Hall Jr. and Jenny Thompson during several sessions Sunday, was one of several athletes who testified before a grand jury in the BALCO (search) investigation.
"If I make the Olympic team, which I plan to do in Sacramento, and I'm held from the Olympic Games because of something that somebody thought, you can pretty much bet there will be a lawsuit," said Jones, who won five track and field medals at the 2000 Olympics.
"I'm not going to sit down and let someone or a group of people or an organization take away my livelihood because of a hunch, because of a thought, because of somebody who's trying to show their power."
The U.S. Olympic track and field trials are in Sacramento, Calif., from July 9-18.
Not everyone believes USADA's rules are unfair. Hall, who has won eight Olympic medals, says Jones needs to be more forthcoming.
At the request of her lawyers and management team, Jones refuses to comment on how she became involved with BALCO and its founder, Victor Conte.
"Marion Jones and her involvement with the THG scandal, I frown on that," Hall said. "I think that she needs to address it. Her competitors, the people that she beat, deserve an explanation as to why she's being called to testify in front of a federal grand jury on the THG investigation. And that's all I'm saying."
U.S. Olympic Committee (search) vice president Herman Frazier said there would have to be definitive evidence to bar anyone from the games without a positive test. The USOC has until July 21 to submit its Olympics roster to the International Olympic Committee.
"When you talk about taking away an opportunity for somebody, especially something that comes around every four years, you have to have some really concrete evidence," Frazier said Sunday.
This month, the Senate agreed to release to Olympic officials evidence that a committee collected on use of banned performance-enhancing drugs among athletes.
Officials wanted the Senate committee to turn over information received from the Justice Department regarding the BALCO steroids so they could be sure to field a clean team in Athens.
Jones is among several star athletes, including Barry Bonds, who appeared before a grand jury focusing on possible tax and drug violations by BALCO, a California lab.
An appearance before the grand jury, or being subpoenaed to testify, doesn't mean an athlete is a target of the probe. Jones knows her testimony could be used against her.
"I've known this for a while," she said. "But I think for someone to be found guilty or condemned without any form of investigation because some company or a group of people say, 'We think ...' for whatever reason — I think that's unfair."
Jones and Hall agree there should be blood testing instead of urine testing to get the most accurate results.
"Until the end of time there will be people trying to beat the system," Jones said. "I know what one person is doing and one person only. I know I have always been drug free and I will continue to be."
Jones' boyfriend, sprinter Tim Montgomery, was scheduled to be at the media session but he wasn't feeling well and stayed home in North Carolina.
Also Sunday, the USOC announced new inductees to the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. Swimmers Janet Evans and Matt Biondi, track and field standouts Jackie Joyner-Kersee and the late Florence Griffith Joyner, and speedskaters Dan Jansen and Bonnie Blair headline the first new class since 1992.
The others to be inducted: the 1996 women's soccer team, paralympian Randy Snow, veteran inductee Alice Coachman Davis and special contributor Bud Greenspan.
As for Phelps, the swimming phenom refused to say whether he will attempt to break Mark Spitz's record of seven gold medals set at the 1972 Munich Games. For now, the 19-year-old Phelps is being coy about his plans for Athens.
"The goal I've put out there is the goal of one Olympic gold," Phelps said. "It's not going to be easy."
In 2003, Phelps became the first man to win five U.S. titles at one meet, setting a world record in the 200 individual medley. At the worlds, he also set five records.
Hall has a unique perspective on what Phelps will try to do.
"If you're going to win seven gold medals, you might as well win eight," he said.
Thompson, like Hall, has plenty of experience to lend younger swimmers. The 31-year-old Thompson will try to qualify for her fourth Olympics after coming out of retirement two years ago.
"I had a lot left to give," she said. "I felt a little bit unfulfilled. This being my last go at it, this is something I want to enjoy."