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U.S. Olympic Shot Putter C.J. Hunter Promises to Fight Steroid Use Evidence

Aired September 26, 2000 - 1:01 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Our top story, an emotional U.S. athlete denied wrongdoing today, as a growing controversy over doping and drug tests threatened to tarnish the spectacle of the Sydney Olympics. C.J. Hunter met with reporters to deny charges he has used anabolic steroids.

Nick Charles of CNN/Sports Illustrated reports Hunter was accompanied by his wife, gold medalist Marion Jones.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK CHARLES, CNN/SI CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He is 6'1, 330 pounds, and Tuesday C.J. Hunter cried like a baby.

C.J. HUNTER, SHOT PUT WORLD CHAMPION: Track and field has never been that important to me. Not to the point where I would do something like this.

CHARLES: The world shot put champion was accompanied by his famous wife Marion Jones when the couple called a news conference to try and deflect the torrent of controversy that has reigned down on them since it was revealed Hunter had tested positive for illegal steroids.

MARION JONES, 100M GOLD MEDALIST: As you all know this -- this has been very difficult, the past couple of days for C.J. and I. And I am here, pretty much, to show my complete support for my husband. Aside from him being an athlete and me being an athlete, he's my husband and I'm here to show support for him. I have whole and complete respect and believe that the legal system will do what's needed to do to clear his name.

HUNTER: Honestly, I don't know what the deal is, but I will find out. And if you think or anyone thinks that I'm going to walk around here with my head down, forget about it. Forget about it. This is a walk in the park compared to some of the stuff I've been through. And I will be there every second of every day to support my wife, and nobody can stop that.

CHARLES: Even Johnny Cochran was there to lend support to both, as Hunter claimed his innocence and brought his nutritionist along to substantiate his case. VICTOR CONTE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, BALCO LABORATORIES: What we think has occurred at this point, is that he was taking a number of nutritional supplements, one of which was an iron supplement, that, in fact, has been tested and found to be positive for nandrolone.

CHARLES: The IOC, though, discovered other irregularities concerning Hunter.

PRINCE ALEXANDRE DE MERODE, IOC DRUG CHIEF: Later on, we have made some research. There were some strange connection and we have discovered that he was tested positive on outside -- out of competition tests. Probably in Rome, by the laboratory of Rome, the laboratory of Barcelona and this one from our staff.

CHARLES: The IOC said the results were from tests taken last June and July, which leads to the question of how Hunter could have competed drug free in the U.S. Olympic trials in mid-July. Senior Olympic officials here have accused U.S. track and field of a history of suppressing positive results.

CRAIG MASBACK, CEO, USA TRACK AND FIELD: I find it sad that the IOC officials of different sorts would make comments suggesting that USA track and field is not -- not only the leader in drug testing worldwide, but might, in fact, be engaging in cover-ups. We're not; we haven't. With respect to any case that may have been in the paper recently, we have done everything as we should, according to our rules, according to the rules of the IAAF and, in fact, according to the rules of the IOC.

CHARLES: The IOC has lifted Hunter's credentials, but he still has passes and tickets that will allow him to coach his wife in training and at the stadium as she tries to push aside this situation and continue her quest to win five gold medals.

STACY DRAGLIA, POLE VAULT GOLD MEDALIST: It's awful. I think -- you know, I was rooting for her to get the five and, you know, I'm still rooting for her. And it's just, it's devastating. She should be able to focus on her task ahead of her and I hope that she can just forget about this stuff and deal with it later.

CHARLES: Whether intentionally or not, C.J. Hunter has created a major distraction for his wife. Yet he chose to place the blame elsewhere.

HUNTER: What will affect Marion is the badgering by you guys. That's the only thing that's going to affect her. She's my wife. Like I said, we've been through things you can't imagine. This is not a problem. We just need to make sure she stays focused and stays healthy and everything else will work out.

CHARLES: In Sydney, Australia, I'm Nick Charles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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