SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- Fighting back tears, his voice quivering with emotion, C.J. Hunter denied Tuesday that he would ever take anabolic steroids, saying his career means nothing compared to wife Marion Jones' quest for five Olympic gold medals.
At a packed news conference in a downtown Sydney hotel, the normally gruff 330-pound shot putter nearly broke down several times as he said he didn't know why he had tested positive at the Bislett Games in Oslo, Norway, on July 28.
Later in the session, Hunter joined his nutritionist in blaming an iron supplement that may have been contaminated. His wife had not taken the supplement, Hunter said.
"I'm going to defend myself vigorously," Hunter said as attorney Johnnie Cochran watched from the wings. "We've put together a great team and I'm quite positive that when everything is said and done, I'll be exonerated."
Jones, who was represented as a teen-ager by Cochran in a brief tiff with USA Track & Field, walked hand-in-hand with Hunter into the news conference. She made a brief statement, then kissed her husband and left. She said it was the last time she would speak on the subject until after the Olympics.
"This has been very difficult the last few days for C.J. and I," Jones said. "I am here pretty much to show my complete support for my husband. ... I have full and complete respect and believe that the legal system will do what it needs to do to clear his name.
"I would hope that all of you would respect the fact that I am competing still here in the Sydney Games. I have four more events to do."
Hunter then was left alone, and he started with a joke.
"I never thought I'd see the day you guys wanted to photograph me more than my wife," he said.
Stopping occasionally to catch his breath and gather his emotions, he talked about how he would do nothing to harm his wife or his two children from a previous marriage.
"Those of you who know me, anyone of you, say I might not be the most agreeable person and I might be downright mean at times," he said. "But nobody on the planet can say that I don't love my wife and I don't love my kids.
"I have never in my life, nor would I ever, do anything to jeopardize their opinion of me. I don't know what has happened, I don't know how it's happened, and how it may affect me is the least of my concerns."
Hunter, the 1999 world champion, was second in the U.S. trials but later withdrew from the team because of a knee injury and underwent arthroscopic surgery. He pulled up his pants leg to show photographers the scar to prove he really had the operation.
Hunter said he would stay in Sydney to cheer on his wife, who is scheduled to return to competition Wednesday in the long jump and 200 meters.
"If any of you think I'm going to hang my head, I'm not," he said. "I'm going to support my wife."
The U.S. Olympic Committee had said Monday that Hunter would be given a support staff pass to allow him to be near Jones. But under pressure from the International Olympic Committee, the USOC shifted course and said he would get only tickets, the same as any other member of an athlete's family.
"I am adamant," said Jacques Rogge, vice chairman of the IOC medical commission. "If this man has committed a doping offense, it's moral and ethical to take away the accreditation and say, 'Sir, you have no place in these games."'
The IOC said Tuesday that Hunter had tested positive three other times in Europe this summer, in competitions in Oslo and Zurich. Switzerland, and in two out-of-competition tests.
Hunter's nutritionist, Victor Conte, executive director of Balco Laboratories in Burlingame, Calif., said Hunter and his associates didn't know about the other positives until someone heard it on the radio on the way to the news conference.
However, Hunter did know the levels of his other positive tests because he recited them for reporters. By far the highest test was in Oslo, he said, where he tested positive for 1,000 times the normal amount of nandrolone.
Conte disputed the conclusion that was an extremely high reading, instead calling it "very low." IOC officials labeled Hunter's defense as one routinely by athletes who test positive.
Conte said the iron supplements had been found to contain nandrolone.
"C.J. was not using the anabolic steroid nandrolone," Conte said. "The positive result was the product of the nutritional supplement he was taking."
Supplements can be contaminated, Conte said, because of poor quality control by the manufacturer. He and Hunter refused to identify the manufacturer, but Conte said the same supplement was used by sprinters Merlene Ottey and Linford Christie, both of whom were suspended after testing positive.
Hunter said he had no reason to take drugs because he planned on retiring after this season anyway.
"The reason that I throw is that I can travel around the world with my wife for free," he said.
Although rumors that Hunter had tested positive had been swirling for weeks, he said he only heard of it when it was reported Monday by a Sydney newspaper.
Asked what he told his wife when he found out, Hunter said, "I told her, 'I don't know what happened, and I'm sorry."'
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