In a Daily Telegraph column in London entitled "Jones should retire now, for everyone's sake", Johnson saw no way back for the triple gold medal winner at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

 

"I don't believe Jones will ever be able to repair her image or get back to the type of performances that made her one of the highest profile women athletes in the world," said Johnson.

 

"There has been far too much damage done to her reputation due to, if nothing else, the people she has surrounded herself with the last several years - some of whom have been involved in some of the largest drug scandals in the sport.

 

"Jones also has passed her prime as an athlete and lost several good years dealing with these scandals and allegations which have surely made it difficult to focus," he added.

 

"For the sake of her own well-being, and the sake of the sport, it would be best if Jones just went away quietly to raise her son."

 

Jones tested positive for EPO at the US Athletics championships in June, but tests on the "B" sample earlier this month came up negative, exonerating her of any drug charges.

 

Jones' absolution may have far-reaching ramifications warned Johnson, as he alluded to other recent drug related incidents in sport.

 

"People are now doubting the testing process that produced the positive A sample to begin with," he said.

 

"You can believe that lawyers for Olympic gold medalist Justin Gatlin, who tested positive earlier this year, and the Tour de  France champion Floyd Landis, who tested positive for excessive testosterone levels, are preparing to use the Marion Jones 'positive A, negative B' scenario as proof of the fallibility of the testing  process."

 

30-year-old Jones, who has strenuously denied ever using performance-enhancing drugs, is aiming to compete at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, but recently pulled out of the World Cup event in Athens.