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Marion Jones denies taking THG steroid

Last updated on: February 04, 2004 21:11 IST

Triple Olympic champion Marion Jones says she has never used the designer steroid THG nor taken any products manufactured by a California laboratory currently under federal grand jury investigation.

"Nobody has ever said anything about Marion Jones every using performance-enhancing drugs and they never will," Jones said. "I'm for a drug-free sport and always will be."

Jones's comments in an interview on Tuesday were her first extensive remarks since the American testified in November before the San Francisco grand jury investigating the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO), a nutritional supplement maker.

The laboratory and its founder, Victor Conte, have been linked by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to the development and distribution of the previously undetectable steroid tetrahydrogestrinone (THG).

Jones, who is not a target of the federal investigation, said she was called before the grand jury to talk about her relationship with the laboratory and Conte.

"I met Mr Conte a number of years ago, and we had a conversation or two. Did our conversation involve talking about any performance-enhancing drugs? No," Jones said.

"Have I ever taken THG? No," she added.

"My relationship with him is very limited. My relationship with the lab is non-existent."

Asked whether she had used any of BALCO's products, Jones replied: "No."

FORMER HUSBAND

Jones's former husband, shot putter C J Hunter, tested positive for the banned steroid nandrolone four times before the 2000 Olympics and decided to retire in March 2001 when he was suspended for two years by USA Track and Field.

He denied taking performance-enhancing drugs and Conte said Hunter's positive tests were the result of contaminated iron supplements. Hunter used supplements from Conte's laboratory.

"Did I know about BALCO and Victor Conte? Sure," said Jones. "Everybody knew about them. Was I married to C J Hunter, who tested positive? Sure."

"But I don't believe in guilt by association," added Jones, who along with boyfriend and world 100 metres record holder Tim Montgomery sparked a controversy last year when they worked briefly with Canadian coach Charlie Francis.

Francis was banned for life by Athletics Canada after Ben Johnson tested positive for steroids following his victory in a world record time in the 1988 Seoul Olympic 100 metres final.

"(When) Mr. Francis was involved a number of years ago in this drug scandal, what was I? Ten years old. Nine years old.

"In choosing to work with Mr Francis last year, the idea of him being related with the drug scandal never even crossed my mind," said Jones.

"I think the people who have really followed my career from the time I was seven years old can see my steady progress and see the type of person and athlete I am," added Jones.

"I will continue to express the fact I am for a drug-free sport and always will be."

Gene Cherry
Source:
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