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Friday, December 03, 2004 - Page updated at 03:11 P.M.

Bonds denied knowledge; Jones implicated by BALCO owner

By Seattle Times news services

Marion Jones has never tested positive for drugs.
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Barry Bonds told a federal grand jury that he used a clear substance and a cream supplied by the Bay Area laboratory now enmeshed in a doping scandal, but he said he never thought they were steroids, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The scandal surrounding the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO) continued to grow as the owner, Victor Conte, charged that former track superstar Marion Jones was "without a doubt" a drug cheat. He told ABC's "20/20" that he devised Jones' program for use of banned performance-enhancing drugs before she won five gold medals at the 2000 Olympics.

Federal prosecutors charge that BALCO distributed undetectable steroids to elite athletes in the form of a clear substance that was taken orally and a cream that was rubbed onto the body.

Bonds testified that he received and used clear and cream substances from his personal strength trainer, Greg Anderson, during the 2003 baseball season but was told they were the nutritional supplement flaxseed oil and a rubbing balm for arthritis, according to a transcript of his testimony reviewed by the Chronicle.

Federal prosecutors confronted Bonds during his testimony on Dec. 4, 2003, with documents indicating he had used steroids and human growth hormone during a three-year assault on baseball's home-run record, but the Giants star denied the allegations.

Earlier, the Chronicle reported that New York Yankees slugger Jason Giambi admitted during grand-jury testimony that he had used steroids Anderson had provided him.

Conte, Anderson and two other men have been indicted and have pleaded not guilty to providing banned performance-enhancing drugs to athletes and a variety of other charges.

Jones and Bonds repeatedly have denied using banned drugs, a position reiterated on Jones' behalf yesterday in a statement from her attorney, Rich Nichols.

"Mr. Conte's statements have been wildly contradictory, while Marion Jones has steadfastly maintained her position throughout: She has never, ever, used performance-enhancing drugs."

Conte, in a television interview to be aired tonight, said he gave Jones EPO, human growth hormone, insulin and a substance called the "clear," believed to be the anabolic steroid THG. He said he watched Jones inject herself with human growth hormone.
 
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"Marion didn't like to inject in the stomach area, she would do that in her quad, the front part of her leg," Conte said.

The report of Giambi's admission had broad impact on major-league baseball. It might jeopardize his $120 million contract with the Yankees and allow commissioner Bud Selig to discipline him.

Selig repeatedly has called for year-round random testing and harsher penalties, but management and the players association have failed to reach an agreement.

"I've been saying for many months: I instituted a very, very tough program in the minor leagues on steroids in 2001. We need to have that program at the major-league level," Selig said in Washington, D.C. "We're going to leave no stone unturned until we have that policy in place by spring training 2005."

Giambi, the 2000 American League MVP with Oakland, signed a seven-year contract with the Yankees before the 2002 season, the sixth-highest deal in baseball history.

New York still owes Giambi $82 million, but the Yankees might be able to get out of the deal. They could argue Giambi's use of steroids violated his contract, allowing them to terminate it.

"We have met with the commissioner's office today and will continue to work with them to obtain all of the facts in this matter," Yankees president Randy Levine said. "We have made no decisions and will keep all of our options open."

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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