Jones: I never signed or endorsed checks

Updated: April 25, 2004, 12:42 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- A $7,350 check from track star Marion Jones' bank account was written to the founder of the California lab at the center of a performance-enhancing drug scandal, The New York Times reported Saturday.

Citing two people familiar with the bank records -- previously noted in a government affidavit -- the newspaper said the check was written to Victor Conte of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative.

Jones, who competed Saturday at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia, said she had no knowledge of the check.

"I never signed, endorsed, agreed upon or sent any checks to BALCO," Jones said. "I'm not in a position to comment on any other person. I can't say what it might have been for. I don't know."

A grand jury probe of BALCO has led to charges against Conte, company vice president James Valente, track coach Remi Korchemny and Greg Anderson, the personal trainer for baseball star Barry Bonds. All have pleaded innocent.

Jones did not comment on any association with Conte on Saturday, but she has in the past admitted to having a "conversation or two," according to The New York Times, though she insists she's never bought anything from him or his company.

The Times reported that Jones' lawyers, while not disputing the check came from her account, said Friday that Jones had not signed or authorized the check to Conte.

While Jones' lawyers declined to say who had signed the check, the newspaper reported that two other people familiar with the check said the signature belonged to C.J. Hunter, Jones' former husband who was once an elite shot putter. The Times said attempts to reach Hunter on Friday night were unsuccessful.

Jones said she has not been in touch with Hunter.

Hunter and Conte made news just before the 2000 Sydney Olympics when four separate tests showed the shot putter had 1,000 times the allowable amount of the steroid nandrolone in his system. Conte took the blame, claiming the positive tests were the result of contaminated iron supplements he had supplied to Hunter.

The check to Conte was deposited on Sept. 8, 2000, a week before the Sydney Olympics. Jones won three gold medals and two bronze medals in Sydney.

Jones testified last year before the grand jury investigating BALCO.

"I'm confident in the near future my name will be cleared from this whole situation," Jones said. "The people that truly do know me, know what kind of person I am."

When asked if she felt singled out, Jones told the New York Times, "I think that the position that I am in, in the sport, my association with people in the past, perhaps has been in question. But I don't think that people are out to get me.

"If you really want to do research, you can just look at my improvement," Jones said. "When I've run faster and when I've run slower, that it's all in line with an athlete that's just working hard and that is talented."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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