- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 8, 2004

LONDON — The IOC opened an investigation yesterday into doping charges against Marion Jones, who eventually could be stripped of her five medals from the 2000 Olympics.

International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge set up a disciplinary commission to look into the claims made by Victor Conte, head of the California-based lab accused of illegally distributing steroids.

Conte told ABC’s “20/20” in a broadcast aired Friday he gave Jones performance-enhancing drugs before and after the Sydney Olympics. He said he watched Jones inject herself with human growth hormone.

“The allegations made by Mr. Conte are extremely serious and the IOC is fully committed to bringing to light any elements that will help the truth prevail,” the IOC said in a statement.

Jones won three gold medals (100 meters, 200 and 1,600 relay) and two bronze (long jump and 400 relay) in Sydney. She repeatedly has denied ever using banned drugs, and has threatened to sue Conte for defamation.

Attorney Rich Nichols reiterated that Jones consistently has denied use of performance-enhancing drugs, passed a lie detector test and has maintained the same physical appearance.

“Victor Conte is someone who is under federal indictment, facing serious prison time and has a record of issuing a host of contradictory, inconsistent statements,” Nichols said in a statement. “Victor Conte’s allegations are not true and the truth will be revealed for the world to see as the legal process moves forward.”

World Anti-Doping Agency chief Dick Pound, a senior IOC member, has said Jones should be stripped of her medals if Conte is telling the truth. Any decision on the medals would be made by the IOC executive board.

Rogge advocates a “zero tolerance” policy on doping.

“I hope the truth will emerge,” he said last week. “We want the truth. We want to know what happened and the more we know, the better.”

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 has said it will take Conte’s claims into account.

Conte, head of the BALCO lab, 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.

Bach said his first move will be to request a transcript of the ABC program.

“First of all we have to check carefully whether the allegations concern the time of the Olympics, and then we have to determine who is concerned,” he said.

Bach said the investigation could cover athletes other than Jones mentioned in the program. The panel will ask for athletes’ statements and could ask them to appear at a hearing, although “we are not in a position to force anybody to appear,” he said.

Bach said he doesn’t expect to finish the probe before the next IOC board meeting, which takes place Feb.10-11 in Turin, Italy.

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