LONDON -- The IOC opened an investigation Tuesday into doping allegations against Marion Jones, who could eventually 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 that 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 has consistently 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."
The U.S. Olympic Committee did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
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."
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 Thomas Bach, the German lawyer and IOC member who heads the three-member investigative panel, said the three-year rule shouldn't apply in this
"I don't think it plays a role," he told the Associated Press in a telephone interview.
Pound said there was no actual decision taken in Sydney and the allegations are only coming out now.
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 allegations 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
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.
Under Rogge, who succeeded Juan Antonio Samaranch in 2001, the IOC has taken a much tougher stance on doping. The IOC sanctioned a record 24 athletes
for doping offenses during the Athens Olympics in August.
The IOC has also been investigating the 1999 doping case involving American sprinter Jerome Young. He tested positive for a steroid in 1999 but was
cleared by a U.S. appeals panel and won a gold medal in Sydney as part of the 1,600 relay team.
The IOC could strip the entire team -- including five-time Olympic champion Michael Johnson -- of the gold medals. The IOC is waiting for the Court of
Arbitration for Sport to rule on an appeal by the U.S. Olympic Committee.