LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) - The International Olympic Committee ended the once stellar Olympic career of U.S. sprinter Marion Jones on Wednesday, taking back her five Sydney 2000 Games medals after she admitted to taking drugs.
“She is disqualified and scrapped from the results,” IOC President Jacques Rogge told reporters after an executive board meeting.
“We disqualified Marion Jones from the five events she took part in Sydney and for one event in Athens (2004 Olympics) which is the long jump where she was fifth,” Rogge said.
Rogge said she was also banned from the 2008 Beijing Olympics in any capacity and the IOC reserved the right for any further sanction.
Jones, who became the first woman to win five medals in a single Olympics after winning gold in the 100 meters, 200 meters and 4x400 meters relay and taking bronze in the long jump and 4x100m relay, could go to jail for lying to federal investigators.
She returned her medals to the United States Olympic Committee after telling the court in White Plains, New York in October she had taken the banned substance known as “clear” from September 2000 to July 2001. She accepted a two-year ban from the sport.
Jones also pleaded guilty to two counts of providing false statements to federal investigators and check fraud and will be sentenced in January.
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) applauded the IOC’s decision.
“We welcome this decision on Marion Jones’ Olympic medals since it is in line with the recommendation made by the IAAF Council last month,” IAAF spokesman Nick Davies told Reuters via e-mail.
IOC Vice President Thomas Bach, a member of the disciplinary commission, urged Jones to give more information about her experiences.
“We are offering Mrs. Jones to give her comments. We are very open and encourage her to do so,” Bach told reporters.
The upgrading of athletes, though initially expected at this IOC meeting, has been delayed pending legal issues that may involve Greek sprinter Katerina Thanou, the silver medalist in the 100 meters behind Jones.
Rogge said he would contact the U.S Department of Justice for more information regarding an ongoing investigation into the San Francisco-based BALCO laboratory that supplied banned substances to several prominent athletes, before awarding any of Jones’ medals to athletes who were runners-up.
“We will also wait to redistribute the other rankings... because other names may come up (in the BALCO probe),” Rogge said. “We can only redistribute rankings when we are sure that the BALCO case will not reveal further issues.”
Thanou was banned for two years after failing to appear at three dope tests, the last on the eve of the 2004 Games in Athens. Former BALCO chief Victor Conte was due to meet World Anti-Doping Agency chief Dick Pound later on Wednesday to provide names of other “Olympic-caliber” athletes involved with the lab.
Rogge said he had also started a process that could lead to the other members of the two U.S. relay teams with whom Jones won medals — gold with the 4x400m and bronze with 4x100m — being stripped of their medals.
“I have initiated the procedure with regard for the possible disqualification of the two USA women’s relay teams in which Marion Jones participated in Sydney,” Rogge said.
“The (IOC’s) disciplinary commission will of course respect the rights of natural justice and will give the United States Olympic Committee the opportunity to be heard before the disciplinary commission.”
Rogge said a decision on those medals could be taken during the IOC’s Executive Board meeting in Beijing in April.
“Should the IOC decide to disqualify the teams, it would be a consequence of the doping offence by Mrs. Jones and not a consequence of any faults committed by other members of the teams,” he said.
Writing by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Trevor Huggins