Jones, Conte settle defamation lawsuit

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

The track star had been seeking $25 million from the BALCO founder.

SAN FRANCISCO -- The convicted ringleader in the BALCO doping scandal settled a defamation lawsuit brought by track star Marion Jones over allegations that she used banned performance-enhancing drugs, a lawyer in the case said Tuesday.

Jones settled her $25 million suit in U.S. District Court here Monday against Victor Conte, who's serving a four-month prison term for his role in the steroid scandal.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"The case has been settled on confidential terms," said Conte's attorney, James Wagstaffe.

Jones' attorneys did not return messages.

The settlement came two weeks after Wagstaffe submitted documents saying he would, as part of the case, take the depositions of Jones, "and other individuals who will corroborate plaintiff's use of anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing drugs."

Jones filed the $25 million suit in December 2004 after Conte said on the "20/20" television program and in a magazine article that he supplied Jones with an array of banned drugs that she then used to help her win five medals at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney.

Jones said Conte, the founder the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative firm, had a vendetta against her and accused him of lying to try to destroy her career and reputation.

Conte maintained his statements about Jones were accurate. When the case was filed, he told The Associated Press that "I look forward with all confidence to the court proceedings as I stand by everything I said."

Jones pulled out of the U.S. Championships last year, citing an injury. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has not charged her with a doping offense.

Conte is scheduled to be released to home confinement March 30 from a federal prison near Bakersfield, where he is serving time for orchestrating the illegal steroids distribution scheme that reportedly involved Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and others.

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