SYDNEY, Australia - Marion Jones awoke to a public relations nightmare this morning.
Today's Sydney Daily Telegraph, citing unnamed sources, reports that Jones' husband, world champion shot-putter C. J. Hunter, withdrew from the Olympics not because of an injury, but because of a positive drug test.
Jones is involved in a much-publicized quest to become the first woman to win five track and field gold medals in one Olympics. One of her television ads also features her husband.
Richard Pound, vice president of the IOC, told The Sun that the Daily Telegraph report "is hearsay from someone who is reliable, but it is hearsay." Pound declined to reveal who he thought was the source of the story.
As for whether the report taints Jones, Francois Carrard, general director of the International Olympic Committee, said: "Testing is an individual matter. Marion Jones, like all medalists, has been tested, and if she doesn't test positive, we shouldn't confer [or pass blame] from one individual to another."
The Daily Telegraph reported Hunter had tested positive for the steroids nandrolone and testosterone at the Bislett Games in Sweden July 28, two weeks after Hunter had qualified for his second American Olympic team with a second-place finish at the U.S. trials.
The newspaper said Hunter's positive drug test had a nandrolone reading of 1,000 times the IOC's legal limit and USA Track and Field and the International Amateur Athletic Federation, the sport's governing body, were both aware of the development.
IAAF general secretary Istvan Gyulai told the Associated press today: "It would be premature and irresponsible to comment." Hunter's agent, Charlie Wells, told Reuters the report was nonsense.
Hunter withdrew from the U.S. team, citing Sept. 3 knee surgery. USA Track and Field had faced questions here that it had covered up positive drug tests among American athletes, and a spokes-person for the organization said it has a "long-standing policy of not commenting on doping matters."
"Right now, C. J. is all business about keeping me healthy, keeping me happy," Jones said after she won the 100. "I think you will see more celebration out of him once this four by four is done."
'That would be Jones' final event here, the 1,600 relay. Wednesday, Jones will run the first two rounds of the 200, an event in which she is favored, and qualify in the long jump, in which she has struggled with her form. The finals of the 200 will be held Thursday, the long jump final Friday and the 400 and 1,600 relays Saturday.
"What you hope is that she maintains her focus and that she can do her best in what are now trying circumstances," Pound told The Sun.
The IOC toughened its, drug screening just last month.
"I think it [the testing] has worked very well," Pound said. "There are some people who have been caught. For the first time, we haven't quietly given the replacement medals under the stands. We have a public ceremony. We have exposed people as cheaters who have stolen the competition. I think it's good, and the science will only get better."
Sun staff writer Bill Glauber contributed to this article.