Jones 'one of biggest frauds' in sport, says Diack

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RALEIGH, North Carolina, Oct 6 (Reuters) Disgraced Olympic champion Marion Jones will be remembered as one of the biggest frauds in sporting history, the president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) said today.

''It is a tragedy,'' Lamine Diack said in a statement to Reuters.

After years of denial, triple Olympic champion Jones admitted yesterday she had used steroids and pleaded guilty in a US court to lying to federal investigators.

Diack said the admission, which could cost Jones the five medals she won at the 2000 Games, tarnished not only the sprinter but the image of the sport worldwide.

''I am deeply disappointed that an athlete with Marion Jones's immense natural ability gave in to the corrupt, 'get rich quick' spin of a dope dealer like Victor Conte,'' Diack said.

''If she had trusted to her own natural gifts and allied them to self sacrifice and hard work, I sincerely believe that she could have been an honest champion at the Sydney Games,'' Diack said of Jones, who won three gold and two bronze medals in Sydney.

''Now, instead, Marion Jones will be remembered as one of the biggest frauds in sporting history,'' Diack added.

'THE CLEAR' Jones, told a federal judge in New York she swallowed the previously undetectable steroid tetrahydrogestrinone (THG) also known as ''the clear,'' which she said had been given to her by former coach Trevor Graham.

She said Graham had received ''the clear'' from BALCO head Conte, one of five men previously convicted for their roles in distributing steroids.

The 31-year-old American faces up to six months in jail and will be sentenced on January 11.

Diack praised the progress made by the combined efforts of the IAAF, International Olympic Committee (IOC), World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and national agencies such as the U.S.

Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

''Together we will stamp out doping wherever it rears its ugly head,'' he said.

However, Diack acknowledged that the admissions by Jones had harmed an already troubled sport.

''A lot of people believed in the achievements of Marion Jones and this confession leaves a bitter taste and tarnishes the image of a sport in which a majority of athletes are honest and clean,'' he said.

''But as well as sadness, there is a feeling of satisfaction because this case shows that it doesn't matter how big a name you are, or when the offence was committed, if you are doping, we will get you in the end.'' The IOC is expected to strip Jones, once the biggest female name in athletics, of her five Sydney Olympic medals later this year.

REUTERS PY VC2300

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