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PEREC SAYS SHE 'CRACKED' IN SYDNEY

French track star Marie-Jose Perec, who fled Sydney before her planned Olympic 400-meter showdown with Cathy Freeman, says fear overwhelmed her dream of obtaining a third Olympic gold medal and she "cracked."

"I missed the most important rendezvous I ever had with myself," she was quoted Thursday as saying by the French sports daily L'Equipe. "I cracked when I shouldn't have cracked. I was defeated."

She said she did not fear Freeman, the Australian whose duel with Perec had been expected to be a high point of the Olympics.

"Freeman didn't frighten me, and she still doesn't frighten me today," Perec was quoted as saying. She added that she was in top form and thought she could have run the race in less than 49 seconds; Freeman won in 49.11.

Perec, who has locked herself up in her apartment since her return, said her fear grew out of harassment from strangers, at her hotel, in supermarkets, and everywhere else.

"There wasn't a day that I wasn't tracked, like an animal, truly," she said.

In particular, she said she had been threatened by a man who knocked at her hotel room door.

"I opened it and he tried to force the door. I threatened to call the police but he said he didn't care. I was so afraid, so afraid," she sobbed.

Romanian Olympic Committee president Ion Tiriac said he will resign in the wake of the Andreea Raducan doping case.

Raducan tested positive for a banned stimulant because she took cold medicine before winning the women's gymnastics all-around last week. The International Olympic Committee disqualified her and stripped her gold medal.

Tiriac has been one of the most aggressive leaders in the fight to eliminate drugs from Olympic sports. He invoked a rule calling for a lifetime ban against any Romanian guilty of doping. It puts him in the awkward situation of having to ban Raducan, even though he feels she did nothing wrong.

"Maybe the person who replaces me will be smarter than me and include some clause (in the doping suspension rules) so we don't have ridiculous situations like this," said Tiriac, who plans to step down next month. "Someone is going to amend this rule in a way that's going to be human enough."

Upset over news reports that focus on her father's temper, teenage tennis star Jelena Dokic has vowed never to play for Australia again.

The Daily Telegraph said today that Dokic was angry over an article in the Australian Tennis magazine that suggested her father, Damir Dokic, needed psychological help to control his volatile temper.

"I am going to speak to my Fed Cup captain Lesley Bowrey . . . and tell her I don't want to play for Australia again," she said. "I don't care what people say and do to my Poppa -- the bond between us, my mother and (brother) Savo, no one can break."

The 17-year-old Dokic lost, 6-1, 6-4, in the bronze medal match to Monica Seles of the United States.

Earlier this month, Dokic's father was banned from women's tennis, both as a coach and as a spectator. He also was denied Olympic accreditation. The sanctions came after he was tossed out of both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open this year following confrontations with authorities.

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