Marion Jones just the latest in long list of sensational revelations

WHITE PLAINS, New York, Oct 5, 2007 (AFP) – BALCO, the San Francisco lab that peddled performance enhancing drugs to athletes, continues to rock the sports world four years after it became a byword for cheating. Marion Jones, once the golden girl of US athletics, Friday pleaded guilty to lying to a federal agent about her use of drugs during the investigation of the company that billed itself as a vitamin and nutritional supplement supplier.

Prior to Jones’ plea – after years of vehement doping denials – that probe had resulted in five criminal convictions and a welter of suspensions by sporting authorites.

The BALCO investigation also put a political focus on the problem of doping in the United States, with President George W. Bush urging action and US lawmakers threatening to impose legislation if US pro sports leagues, especially Major League Baseball, failed to stamp out doping.

Federal officials began investigating BALCO in 2003, after the US Anti-Doping Agency received an anonymous tip about previously unknown drug – later identified as the synthetic steroid THG.

A test was developed for the drug, and sports officials scrambled to make sure THG would play no role at the 2004 Athens Olymp