Jones drugs admission may be key in doping probe, say IOC

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ATHENS, Oct 5 (Reuters) The International Olympic Committee today said Olympic champion Marion Jones's admission of using steroids in the run-up to the 2000 Sydney Games may be crucial in its ongoing drugs probe.

Jones admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs and planned to plead guilty later today to lying about her drug use, The Washington Post newspaper reported yesterday.

Jones, 31, who will also plead guilty to an unrelated financial matter in a New York court, made the admission in a letter she sent to close family and friends, The Post reported.

She became the first woman to win five athletics medals at a single Olympics in 2000 when she captured gold medals in the 100 and 200 metres and 4x400m relay and bronzes in the long jump and 4x100m relay.

Jones now faces the real prospect of having her medals from the Sydney Games stripped.

The IOC launched an investigation in 2004 into allegations that Jones used performance-enhancing drugs in relation with a US-based drugs lab.

''The IOC has learnt about Marion Jones' intention to plead guilty to lying to federal agents about her use of performance-enhancing substances during her career,'' the IOC said in a statement.

NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENT It said progress of its probe since 2004 to investigate how the affair involving the Balco lab may have affected Olympic Games competitions had been slow due to a difficulty in collecting findings.

''The information that Marion Jones might provide later on today may prove to be key in moving this case forward,'' the IOC said.

According to the letter, Jones said she took the steroid known as ''the clear'' for two years beginning in 1999. She said in the letter that her former coach, Trevor Graham, gave her the substance, saying it was the nutritional supplement flaxseed oil.

Jones, 31, has previously denied using drugs designed to aid her performance. She said she expected to be sentenced to three months in jail for lying to federal agents, The Post reported.


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