Salvo (North Carolina) Oct 9: Disgraced sprinter Marion Jones has relinquished the five Olympic medals she won at the 2000 Sydney Games and accepted a two-year ban after admitting she used performance-enhancing drugs, the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) said.
The medals - three golds and two bronzes - were turned over to the US Olympic Committee (USOC) yesterday and will be returned to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for awarding to the appropriate winners, USOC chief executive Jim Scherr told a teleconference.
The USOC also called on US athletes who competed in the medal-winning 4x100 and 4x400 metres relays with Jones in Sydney to return their medals because, Scherr said, they were won unfairly.
After years of denial, Jones told a US court on Friday she had taken the banned substance known as the ''clear'' from September 2000 through to July 2001 in violation of International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and USADA rules.
Jones has said the substance came from the BALCO laboratory at the centre of US sport's biggest doping scandal.
Jones, 31, also pleaded guilty to two counts of providing false statements to federal investigators and will be sentenced in January.
Her two-year ban began on Monday, the day she accepted the suspension, the USADA said.
She has been disqualified from all competitive events on and subsequent to Sept. 1, 2000, and must forfeit all medals, results, points and prizes from that date, the USADA said.
In addition to Jones's five Olympic medals, Scherr said he believed the sprinter's 2001 world championships medals - gold in the 200 metres and silver in the 100 metres - should also be forfeited.
The USOC will request the return of more than 100,000 dollars in funds Jones had received, Scherr added.
The IAAF is also expected to seek millions of dollars in prize and appearance money from Jones, who according to court documents is broke.
''The outcome of this story is a valuable reminder that true athletic accomplishment is not obtained through cheating and any medal acquired through doping is only fool's gold,'' USADA chief executive Travis Tygart said.
Greece's Katerina Thanou, who later served a two-year doping ban, won silver behind Jones in the 100 metres at Sydney with Jamaican Tayna Lawrence taking bronze.
Scherr would not say whether he thought Thanou should receive the 100 metres gold.
''That is the responsibility of the IOC,'' he said.
Bahamian Pauline Davis-Thompson was runner-up to Jones in the 200 followed by Susanthika Jayasinghe of Sri Lanka and Beverly McDonald of Jamaica.
Russia's Tatyana Kotova could move up to bronze in the long jump.
In the relays, France were behind the bronze-medal winning US in the 4x100 and Jamaica, Russia and Nigeria followed the Americans in the 4x400.
''It's our opinion any sporting event where something is won unfairly is completely tarnished and (medals) should be returned.
The relay events were won unfairly,'' USOC chairman Peter Ueberroth said.
But Scherr said ordering the return of the medals was the responsibility of the IAAF and the IOC.
The USOC said it had also sent letters of apology to 205 national Olympic committees, the people of Australia and the organisers and competitors of the 2000 Games.