I bit down hard on my tongue during Marion Jones's televised "confession" about having lied to U.S. Federal agents conducting two separate investigations into improprieties in which she had been involved -- actions, which, according to her, were "stupid".
I held my breath -- or withdrew my fingers from writing, that is -- for two weeks on the topic until reading through enough of the "Forgive Marion, she's only human" articles to be able to skip church for the rest of the year -- columns written by writers who'd jumped on the Marion Jones bandwagon long, long past the point of even being able to understand the complexity of that staged event.
Sure, we've all come up short at times in our lives - I am no exception to this rule of human nature.
However, there is a line between falling short of an expectation on one or several occasions -- even over a lifetime -- and making an attempt to feed lies to diminish the value of that expectation as Marion Jones had done her entire professional career prior to "retiring" (read: "forced exit").
The only thing silly about the entire made-for-tv moment was the absolute waste of time Jones made it in providing a few words meant to be taken as an explanation for her motives for lying and revealing all she knew about cheating -- in this case, absolutely nothing.
Marion Jones stated that all she'd done was cover up a couple of small, little details about a simple little check her ex-boyfriend (and father of her first child), a dope cheater, himself, deposited into her account in the amount of $25.000 as part of a money laundering scheme to which he plead guilty, and only told a little white lie to a couple of I.R.S. agents when she'd sworn an oath to secrecy about flaxseed oil that a big, bad man named Trevor Graham had told her to keep to herself.
Previously a lawsuit-wielding, outspoken defender of (mis)truth, Marion Jones was now stating that she'd fallen off her high horse, was victimised by a bad apple and played a small, insignificant part in a couple of items considered foul play.
All of that power she attempted to wield the past four years over the authorities chasing her trail -- the USADA -- is now, suddenly, to have been nothing more than (or should that be less than) hot air in her fists if one is to buy the notion that she was able to shake them with great might at pursuers of truth and lie straight to their faces, but could not demonstrate power to say "no" to a person of bad favour, Trevor Graham.
Graham tricked her, she said, and she simply lied to save her career.
Her career, my friends, is one which had encompassed travelling the world on advertisers' budgets; staying at hotels under the money meeting arrangers saved for their expensive guests of honour; being paid enormous amounts of appearance fees to grace their tracks; leaving those tracks with even more money in bonuses for breaking records and running fast times; and winning prestige, honour and fame by method of deceit and fraud. It also meant meeting dignitaries, having a stadium named after her and being named to a U.S. Presidential Advisory Committee by George W. Bush.
That about sums it up for Marion Jones's 9-5 job.
Her second one involved shopping and spending the money in such a way as to continue with the lifestyle she'd grown accustomed to as she sneaked around the world in plain day as a cheat and laughed her way to the bank believing no one would ever find out.
We found out about her moonlighting, because her former coach, Dan Pfaff, was stiffed on a sum in excess of 200 large by Jones, and he sued her to collect money she owed him -- not the first time Marion Jones has been through the halls of justice in matters concerning non-payment of monies owed.
"You made some good money. Where did that money go?" Pfaff's attorney, Eric Little, asked Jones earlier this year in a Texas courtroom according to the Los Angeles Times.
"Who knows?" Jones replied. "I wish I knew. Bills, attorney bills, a lot of different things to maintain the lifestyle."
Going broke with that money -- which was not hers to use -- caused her to lose a couple of houses and get exposed as a pauper. It also called for an arduous process by the IAAF to attempt to recoup years of monies she was paid under false pretenses.
Marion Jones didn't tell you about the tens of millions she amassed in wealth over those years spent cheating. What she did do was limit her culpability to a short period of time as to not be outed as a complete farce or a total cheat -- if such a distinction can be made for one who cheats for a short period of time and one who had cheated since their first season on the track as a professional athlete.
Marion Jones will fall into that second category.
The evening she confessed, she wore a pinstriped suit before an audience which stretched around the world, put on an act of sorrow and guilt with the trifecta of emotions secured by her red eyes dripping tears down either side of her face.
Some in the public bought it. Most other people forgot it about a week later.
I, for one, however, never will.
I'm not shy in stating that I'd known Marion Jones was a cheat a long time ago, and there are no shortage of quotes on the internet for you to read at your leisure (including an earlier blog from me here from 2006-December-12).
Marion Jones needed not confess to tell me that -- logic and reasoning did an excellent job in not failing me when called upon to put understanding to how she climbed suddenly up a ladder in which she had never before been in the same postal code and pulled off a world championship victory in her first season as a professional (liar) back in 1997.
I wanted to strike certain buttons on my computer during her self-awareness speech two weeks ago, hit "enter" and just get it over with for her -- to simply confess for her right then and there as she followed her prepared revelation of some things past, and most things still hidden.
I couldn't, however, because Marion Jones's legacy, as well as that of her destiny -- as far as this sport is concerned -- is married to half truths, half lies and every denial in between; one peep from me about the real "truth" behind her confession and how deep her sins against the sport were rooted would have ended in Marion Jones contradicting herself and having her commit yet one more act of perjury before the authorities with whom she had earlier that hour discussed the details of her indiscretion with as little revelation as possible in order to receive the lightest punishment available.
Marion Jones, the heretofore "golden girl" of the sport, had revealed that she had misstated the truth, and attempted to forge ahead with as little of her blood spilled as possible on the issue. She exited the stage and was to not look back -- leaving nearly as nonchalantly as she entered the scene following a tumultuous 2006 season which pegged her as a drugs cheat, yet exonerated her at a later date for reasons too far and too touchy to discuss on one blog entry.
The only difference between the before and after of that night was that Marion Jones's mother, of whose first name she bears, had fallen down on the steps to justice, but was standing behind her daughter, patting her on the back, after justice was to be revealed to an audience of a few hoping to transmit the message to the four corners of the world.
Marion Jones lied another time to you and to me in leaving us with four minutes and 25 seconds of air time which revealed little about the truth, accomplished much less in terms of educating the public, and left her standing with medals and honours collected illegally from another period of time, namely the 1997 IAAF World Championships.
There are mixed messages we in the media and blog world are sending out to you concerning what to do with the information provided by Marion Jones that she conned people and had subsequently turned into a con, herself.
Some writers would have you take up her cross for her, forgive her and move on in an act of kindness which they say refreshes the soul and causes us to not harbour bitter feelings.
I'm not as apt to simply forgive and forget, because Marion Jones is destined to come back into the spotlight at a future junction -- she intimated that she would like to write a book.
Expectations from most are that the book will tell common John more than he knows now, but it will never fully tell the truth of the matter of Marion Lois Jones vs. Reality.
My reality is that I don't have to spend much time defending my propositions which suggested that Marion Jones was a cheat. She did that for me and everyone else who had either supported some of those notions, had their own, or those who had no idea that she should ever have been a suspect in the matter.
Talk today is based on how long she was a cheat, not if she was one.
My other sense of things real and not perceived, however, is that no matter what others may believe they know about Marion Jones with regard to the information she deliberately and carefully doctored as truth to the world, nothing outside of Marion Jones's own will can cover the gaping hole she left out as fact when stating she was merely a victim to a couple of other people's transgressions.
To have lied during a moment of truth reveals to me that Marion Jones, no matter how much one prods and pokes, threatens and takes away, will never, ever, ever give up the fight to keep the imposing amount of information she has left within herself -- even if that, too, could turn her long-term fortunes around.
That's why one believes that Marion Jones is better off away from the sport so that most folks go on about their lives in the moment of the scandal, but not affected by the greater lie left untold. If Marion Jones returns, the engine revvs up again, a similar song gets sung by -- and about -- her and a few people get on getting interested in the great Marion Jones -- a woman who once won five medals in a single Olympics, but who had to give them back...because she was a cheat.
Please, Marion, for God's sake -- since you've stated you've put your trust in Him to take you on through past this state of events -- stay out of the sport for your good and mine. You'd do us both a huge service, we could both go on with the rest of our lives not worried about what you say, how you cover it up and the sport could simply take this punch from you as a knock-down, but not a knock-out with respect to how average people view its cleanliness.
Then again, I'm not one for wishful thinking.