Jones in lie detector challenge

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The Independent Online

The lawyer for the triple Olympic champion Marion Jones has challenged the founder of the Balco laboratory, Victor Conte, to take a lie detector test after he said he had seen her taking performance-enhancing drugs.

The challenge comes a day after Jones sued Conte for $25m (£13.1m), saying he had falsely accused her of doping.

"Today we challenge Mr Conte to take and make public a lie detector examination from a qualified, well-respected polygrapher," Jones's attorney, Rich Nichols, said in a statement. "Marion Jones took, passed and made public a lie detector test, which confirmed what she has said publicly, what her then coach has reportedly said and what her doctor reported - she has never, ever used performance-enhancing drugs. Mr Conte has not taken a test."

Jones, the only woman to win five track and field medals at one Olympics, is seeking to restore her reputation after the scandal cast doubt on her achievements. The International Olympic Committee recently set up a commission to investigate the allegations.

Conte, who faces charges of steroid distribution and money laundering, said this month in a US television interview and article that he had supplied steroids to leading athletes including Jones.

Her lawyer wants Conte to answer whether he ever saw her take performance-enhancing drugs and if he had leaked any grand jury testimony.

"It is easy to go on national television and, as the lawsuit states, make 'false, malicious and misleading' statements designed to do harm to Ms Jones' character and reputation," Nichols said. "However, it is quite another matter to take a polygraph examination that will test whether one is truthful or untruthful."

Conte, a former bass guitarist turned self-educated nutritionist who lives to the south of San Francisco, did not immediately respond to the latest challenge. He, his deputy and two coaches are due to go on trial next year.