Medalist denies taking steroids

Updated: December 3, 2004, 11:05 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

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

Victor Conte, head of the lab that allegedly provided steroids and other banned drugs to elite athletes, told ABC's "20/20" that he gave Jones performance-enhancing drugs and watched as she injected herself with human growth hormone.

In excerpts released by ABC before the Friday night show, Conte said he started supplying Jones with doping substances in the weeks leading up to the 2000 Olympics.

Jones, who won three gold and two bronze track and field medals in Sydney, has repeatedly denied ever using banned drugs.

"Victor Conte's allegations about me are not true, and the truth will come out in the appropriate forum," Jones said Friday night. "I have instructed my lawyers to vigorously explore a defamation lawsuit against Victor Conte."

Pound said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press that Jones' medals should be taken away if Conte is telling the truth.

International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said he was aware of Conte's accusations but 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. "We want the truth. We want to know what happened and the more we know, the better."

Any decision on the medals would be taken by the IOC executive board. Pound, a senior IOC member, said he expects Rogge to take a tough stand based on his "zero tolerance" policy on doping.

"Maybe in the past we weren't rigorous enough in going back after the East Germans," Pound said, referring to the communist state's doping program in the 1970s and '80s. "But there's a new president in town, and he's much more unequivocal on this whole question."

Whether the medals can be revoked could depend on an interpretation of the IOC's rule on statute of limitations.

Under the IOC charter, Olympic decisions can be challenged within three years of the games' closing ceremony. The Sydney Olympics ended more than four years ago, on Oct. 1, 2000.

But Pound said that rule may not apply, because there was no actual decision in this case.

"We will find a way to deal with that," Pound said. "It's arguable there was no decision taken, just a list of results. So you're not challenging a decision."

USATF spokeswoman Jill Geer called for a quick, fair investigation.

"It's inappropriate to comment simply because we don't know what the facts are," she said.

Jones, who did not win any medals at the Athens Olympics, has been under investigation for months by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency but has not been charged.

USADA general counsel Travis T. Tygart said Friday he could not comment on any particular athlete but said the agency remains interested in "all information which will assist us in identifying those who have used drugs in sport."

"Now that Mr. Conte has apparently broken his silence, we will renew our request that he communicate directly with us as we continue to review all relevant information related to the BALCO doping conspiracy," Tygart said.

Conte said he worked with Jones from August 2000 to September 2001. He said he designed a doping regimen for her that included the previously undetectable steroid THG, the endurance-enhancing hormone EPO, human growth hormone and insulin.

Conte was indicted in February by the grand jury investigating the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative. Conte, BALCO vice president James Valente, Barry Bonds' personal trainer Greg Anderson and track coach Remi Korchemny have all pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Jones' attorney, Richard M. Nichols, said Conte is not credible.

"We invite the public to decide: Victor Conte is a man facing a 42-count federal indictment, while Marion Jones is one of America's most decorated female athletes,"he said. "Mr. Conte's statements have been wildly contradictory, while Marion Jones has steadfastly maintained her position throughout: She has never, ever used performance-enhancing drugs."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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