A $25m (£13m) lawsuit filed by Marion Jones against Victor Conte, the man the FBI claims is behind the biggest doping scandal in sporting history, has been dismissed as a publicity stunt.
Lin Wood, a leading libel lawyer based in Atlanta, has branded the suit “a public-relations tactic” and claimed that if the triple Olympic champion was serious about clearing her name she should also be suing ABC and ESPN.
ABC broadcast the interview with Conte during which the founder and owner of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative claimed he had supplied Jones with a cocktail of banned performance-enhancing drugs during the build-up to the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Conte then repeated his allegations in an article for ESPN Magazine.
“This is nothing more than a PR stunt by a desperate woman, who has regularly used drugs throughout her career,” said Conte. “I stand by everything I said . . . I am telling the truth and Marion is lying.”
If Jones wins the case, Conte is unlikely to be able to pay the damages she estimates his allegations have cost her in lost endorsement deals. “I don’t think you can restore your reputation with a lawsuit that is simply not going to be defended,” said Wood.
Jones’s representatives refused to comment but said in the lawsuit that Conte’s lawyers originally insisted he had not supplied Jones with steroids. The lawsuit claims that in a “sudden about-face” Conte has changed his story to “curry favour with prosecutors”.
Tim Montgomery, the world 100 metres record holder and father of Jones’s son, was also trying to save his career last night. Lawyers were attempting to persuade a three-member panel from the Court of Arbitration for Sport meeting in Montreal to drop doping charges against him and Chryste Gaines.