The relationship between tarnished Canadian coach Charlie Francis
and the First Couple of U.S. track, sprinters Marion Jones and
Tim Montgomery, ended last week, according to all three. The trio
claim that in their 10 weeks together Francis, who once ran Ben
Johnson's steroid program, made enough changes in Jones's and
Montgomery's techniques to make the fastest woman and man in the
world even faster. "I've seen a big difference," says Francis,
"particularly with Marion, on some things at the end of her
It better have done the two sprinters some good, because it also
did a lot of harm to their reputations. Jones miscalculated in
assuming she could escape criticism for training under Francis,
who was banned from coaching Canadian national team members after
Johnson tested positive for steroids at the 1988 Olympics and was
stripped of the 100-meter gold medal. Jones seemed disingenuous
in her only public comments on the matter, telling the Los
Angeles Times last week that she was just 12 in 1988 and thus
couldn't be expected to understand the ramifications of working
with Francis. In the past Jones has often talked of her vivid
memories of the '84 and '88 Games.
Jones and Montgomery were uncommonly cold in firing their former
coach, Trevor Graham, who had trained Jones since 1997 and helped
her win five Olympic medals. Montgomery began working with the
coach in the fall of 1999 and credited Graham with turning him
from a good sprinter into the 100-meter world-record holder. In
November, however, Graham says Jones fired him with a terse
letter telling him his services were no longer required. The
letter arrived shortly after the death of his 19-year-old son,
Ian, in a Florida traffic accident.
"I was shocked [by the letter]," says Graham. "Look at Maurice
[Greene]; he had a bad year last year, but he didn't leave
[longtime coach] John Smith. But that's coaching, and that's
business. I won't say anything bad. Maybe they'll come back
For now Jones and Montgomery are looking for a coach. It may be
naive to think that they will never seek training advice from
Francis, who consults with athletes in many sports. "When I began
working with Marion and Tim, I was concerned that it might go
this way," Francis says. "It was a privilege to work with these
people for even a short time. But this is the way things are."
COLOR PHOTO: PAUL HANNA/REUTERS (TOP Jones (above) and beau Montgomery were assailed for training with Francis.
COLOR PHOTO: REMY DE LA MAUVINIERE/AP [See caption above]
Of current world track and field records, none were set by an
athlete older than Regina Jacobs, 39, who broke the indoor
1,500-meter mark on Feb. 1 in Boston. The 10 oldest:
EVENT (*Indoor) ATHLETE TIME/DISTANCE
AGE YEAR SET
1. Women's 1,500m* Regina Jacobs (U.S.) 3:59.98
2. Men's 50K walk Thierry Toutain (France) 3:40:57
3. Men's 35-pound Lance Deal (U.S.) 84'10"
weight throw* 33 1995
4. Women's mile* Doina Melinte (Romania) 4:17.14
5. Women's 200m* Merlene Ottey (Jamaica) 21.87
6. Women's 800m Jarmila Kratochvilova (Czech.) 1:53.28
7. Men's 400m Michael Johnson (U.S.) 43.18
8. Men's hammer throw Yuriy Sedykh (Russia) 284'7"
9. Women's 400m* Jarmila Kratochvilova (Czech.) 49.59
10.Men's pole vault Sergey Bubka (Ukraine) 20' 1 3/4"