Jones exploring defamation suit

Updated: December 4, 2004, 7:11 PM ET
SportsTicker

LONDON -- American gold medal-winning sprinter Marion Jones has announced she will take legal action after being accused of taking illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

The allegations were made by founder of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO) Victor Conte, who has been charged along with three other men of distributing illegal steroids to baseball superstars Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi as well as money laundering.

Conte, who is likely to face trial in March, claimed in an ABC television interview that aired Friday that he had supplied Jones with banned substances leading up to the Sydney Olympics, in which she won five medals, including three golds.

Jones repeatedly and vehemently has refuted any allegations of drug abuse after being embroiled in the BALCO scandal and immediately hit back at Conte.

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

Jones' lawyer, Richard Nicholls, has questioned Conte's credibility.

"Marion has steadfastly maintained her position throughout - she has never, ever used performance-enhancing drugs," Nicholls said Friday. "Victor Conte is a man facing a 42-count federal indictment, while Marion Jones is one of America's most decorated female athletes. Mr. Conte's statements have been wildly contradictory.

"Mr. Conte chose to make unsubstantiated allegations on television, while Marion Jones demanded to take, and then passed, a lie detector examination. Mr. Conte is simply not credible. We challenge him to submit to the same lie detector procedure that Marion Jones passed."

Both the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have been keeping a close eye on the proceedings.

Under the stewardship of president Jacques Rogge, the IOC has adopted a "zero tolerance" stance on drugs as they look to ensure that systematic doping programs implemented in the former Eastern Bloc in the 1970s and 80s are not allowed to prosper.

If the allegations were shown to have any basis in truth, Jones could be stripped of her medals from Sydney.

Jones became involved in the affair when she testified before the BALCO federal grand jury and since has been under investigation for steroid use by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

She has never failed a drug test, but that seemingly is no longer a viable defense.

Jones' partner, 100-meter record holder Tim Montgomery, and Chryste Gaines both face lifetime bans after being charged due to information obtained in raids on BALCO, not because of positive tests.

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