December 16, 2004
BALCO Defamation Suit
Victor Conte, the former CEO of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO) who is a defendant in the widely-noted steroids prosecution, has been sued by Marion Jones for defamation. Conte gave an extensive interview to 20/20 that aired on Dec. 3 accusing Jones, who won five medals at the 2000 Olympics (including three gold), of injecting steroids. There has been speculation about why Conte's attorney permitted him to implicate himself in the manufacture and sale of illegal steroids when the charges are pending against him, but--for whatever reason--Conte made his statements in a high-profile manner that makes his upcoming criminal trial almost anticlimactic.
Jones' defamation suit was filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco and seeks $25 million in damages. According to an MSNBC story, Conte responded to it in an e-mail stating the the suit was "nothing more than a PR stunt by a desperate woman, who has regularly used drugs throughout her career. I look forward with all confidence to the court proceedings as I stand by everything I said on the '20/20' special.'' Jones' attorney offered to have Conte take a lie detector to answer the following three questions: "Did he observe Jones injecting herself with performance enhancing drugs on April 21, 2001, as he stated on national television? Has he ever leaked any grand jury testimony or other evidence related to the BALCO investigation? Has he ever observed Marion Jones illegally taking any performance-enhancing drugs?"
As if this case wasn't already a complete media circus, now a collateral proceeding will be played out in the press. It almost makes you long for a nice gag order. (ph)
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