Jones: Conte's allegations of steroid use `are not true'

Not backing off, sprinter says legal action possible

Drugs

December 04, 2004|By Jeff Barker | Jeff Barker,SUN STAFF

Marion Jones yesterday denied allegations that the owner of an infamous California laboratory gave her performance-enhancing drugs and watched as she injected herself with human growth hormone.

"Victor Conte's allegations about me are not true, and the truth will come out in the appropriate forum," said the track and field star, who won five medals at the 2000 Olympics. "I have instructed my lawyers to vigorously explore a defamation lawsuit against Victor Conte."

Conte, a former funk musician who founded the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO), made the allegations during an interview with ABC's 20/20 broadcast last night. He said he started supplying Jones with doping substances in the weeks leading up to the 2000 Games.

Jones issued the denial through her publicist. She continued a pattern of aggressively defending herself from steroid use allegations. Last summer, she said repeatedly that she had never failed a drug test and called the U.S Anti-Doping Agency, which was investigating her, "a kangaroo court."

Jones appeared before a federal grand jury about a year ago. "If she said that she didn't use drugs, then she lied," Conte said on 20/20.

Conte was shown on the program playing bass and lifting weights. Asked about athletes using performance-enhancing drugs, Conte said: "It's not cheating if everybody's doing it."

World Anti-Doping Agency chief Dick Pound said yesterday that Jones should be stripped of her five medals if the allegations that she used banned drugs before the 2000 Games are true.

International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said he was aware of Conte's accusations, but that it was too early to speculate about stripping the medals. "I hope the truth will emerge," he said in Croatia, where he was attending a meeting of European Olympic officials.

Pound is a senior IOC member. Whether the medals can be revoked could depend on an interpretation of the IOC's rule on statute of limitations.

Conte, indicted in February on steroid distribution charges, faces trial next year.

Conte's attorney sent a letter to President Bush over the summer saying his client "is willing to reveal everything he knows." But the White House said it has no intention of getting involved.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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