Jones, in first post-prison interview, says lying a mistake


CHICAGO -- Disgraced American sprinter Marion
Jones told talk-show host Oprah Winfrey in an interview aired
on Wednesday she will never compete again, but believes she would
have won five Olympic medals even without an illegal drug.

In her first interview since completing a six-month prison
term for lying to government prosecutors about drug use, Jones
insisted she never thought she was being given anything beyond
legal vitamins and supplements, and was told the drug that
eventually led to her downfall was just flaxseed oil.

"Never knowingly did I take performance-enhancing drugs,"
she told Winfrey during a sometimes emotional
interview, taped Friday, in which she wept at one point.

In a statement to ESPN.com, BALCO founder Victor Conte disputed Jones' claim that she didn't knowingly use steroids.

"I cannot believe Marion Jones continues to lie. Enough is enough. She knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs and has already been to prison for lying about it in the first place," Conte said.

In the statement, Conte described how he taught Jones to inject herself with BALCO's performance-enhancing drugs.

"I showed her something I had brought with me called a Novopen. It was a cartridge injector pen that contained 45 units of Norditropin growth hormone. The injector contained enough liquid for ten injections. I instructed her how to inject herself with 4.5 units of growth hormone and told her to follow the same protocol three times per week. I taught her to change the needle, dial up the dosage, disperse any air in the chamber, and inject the drug. When she left my room, she took the Novopen with her so she could administer her own injections thereafter."

In the interview with Oprah, Jones said she is officially retired from competitive track and field.

"I will never run again. I've retired from the sport," she
said, but "with a bit of sadness because I love to compete."

She said she no longer has "Marion Jones the athlete" to
hide behind and is anxious to get on with her life, including
raising her two children, ages 1 and 5.

At the 2000 Sydney Games, Jones became the first woman to
win five medals -- three gold and two bronze -- in a single
competition. But the International Olympic Committee stripped
her of the medals and banned her from competition through last
summer's Games in Beijing.

Jones admitted in 2007 she lied to federal prosecutors
about her steroid use and was also found guilty of misleading
investigators about a bank fraud case involving her
ex-boyfriend and the father of her 5-year-old, former
100-meter world-record holder Tim Montgomery.

Jones said she remembered the moment she decided to lie
about her drug use -- when prosecutors showed her a sample of
tetrahydrogestrinone (THG), which was also known as "the

"I knew that I had taken that substance, I made the
decision that I was gonna lie and I was gonna, you know, try
and cover it up," she said.

Jones said she regretted that she didn't take five minutes
to think the matter over and talk to her lawyers, because while
she recognized the drug, she did not know it was illegal when
it was given to her.

Jones said there were "moments when I felt I had more energy
on the track ... that second wind" and times in training "when
I felt really good."

But she ascribed that to hard training, the supplements she
was taking and the fact that she expected to feel that way in
an Olympic year.

"Nothing felt different," she said. "I felt strong, I felt
powerful," she said, and always felt from an early age that she
had something no one else did.

Jones, 33, said she sometimes reruns her races in her mind
and asks herself if she would have won without the illegal
substance. "Usually, I answer yes. I still think I would have

But she said she realizes there will always be a question
mark over those competitions.

"It wasn't as difficult to give back the medals because it's
not about the hardware," she said. "But it's the memory that
will be tarnished."

She wept while reading from a letter she wrote to her
children while in jail, telling them "this place where your
mommy has to live for six months is called prison."

She said missing their birthdays while in prison and being
away from them and her husband and the father of her 1-year-old,
Olympic sprinter Obadele Thompson, was the hardest part about
being incarcerated.

"I truly believe that the reason I made the awful mistake
and a few thereafter was because I didn't love myself enough to
tell the truth," she said.

Jones' U.S. relay teammates have filed an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport seeking to retain their 2000 Olympic medals. The International Olympic Committee disqualified her teammates, but conceded none of them broke any rules.

Prodded by Winfrey, Jones apologized to her teammates for lying to prosecutors.

"When I stepped on that track, I thought everybody was drug-free, including myself," Jones said. "I apologize for having to put everybody through all of this.

"I'm trying to move on. I hope that everybody else can move on, too."

Information from ESPN.com's Mike Fish, Reuters and The Associated Press was used in this report.