Kelli White, as you have learned in the history of this sport from sources unlimited and too numerous to state, had, like Marion Jones, committed the worst possible athletics sin known to the spirit of competition: she did wilfully, and with extreme prejudice for achieving the objective for which she had set out, participate in a plan to execute and cover up a scheme to defraud this sport of its history, records and reputation – resulting in condemnation for her, shame on her family, and banishment for two years from the sport which had provided her success and livelihood.
White sided with Victor Conte and became a cheat, or a person despised for betraying the ethics of hard work and dedication by using an illegal method to defy the limits placed on nature. She carries with that a stigma which will always stick to her side like an unbearable cramp during a marathon race – this one a race away from the past and into a future of her choosing.
By using a needleless syringe filled with a pale yellow-coloured clear under her tongue on an average of every second day, applying the cream to her arm and taking EPO injection shots into her stomach to wilfully deceive and cheat and being linked with using these undetectable drugs, White was immediately removed from her arsenal were the free passes to Eugene, Paris, Berlin, Stockholm, Oslo, Zürich – and every other place which seemed to glitter under the night lights by the world’s greatest, most knowledgeable fans in attendance cheering on her every step toward the finish line.
Her redefined place in the sport has been a spot behind a television set several time zones removed from the action in which she had longed to compete, and had sorely missed. White was subsequently stripped of her 2003 USA Outdoor 100m and 200m titles, her 2003 World Championships 100m and 200m titles (including $120.000 in prize money), and was stripped of all results between 2000-December-15 – 2004-May-19.
The results were Kelli White’s own problem and were her own doing. She made a mistake, and the consequences – tough as they might have seemed – were fair, accurate, and immediate.
The thing with Kelli White, however, is that she rose, she fell, she cried and then made her peace with the sport – a seemingly everlasting one which appears to have paid dividends in not having come clean beyond her ability, so help her God, but in having shown true remorse for actions which were shameful and incredibly selfish, and taking action to ensure others have a fighting chance of not repeating her mistakes.
Three years after being exposed as a cheater and stapled together with the BALCO bunch, White spoke before the 2007 Anti-Doping Congress about the lures of using performance-enhancing drugs and the obstacles anti-doping officials are facing to cleaning up the sport.
When she was asked yesterday by the Associated Press why she continues to talk about her failure when so many others have hidden, she simply says that she has to.
“The pain is so deep, it’s important that I tell you ‘Don’t go there, don’t even bother.’”
White carries with her a black mark in the history of the sport which was created with indellible ink – such a mark which stirs up bad memories for those who value the meaning of clean competition and fair play among competitors. She has had her liberties taken from her to a certain extent, but has taken the opportunities afforded her to risk hitting an emotional bottom whilst preventing other athletes faced with similar choices to cheat an opportunity to make the correct choice and not give in to the temptations – despite the lure of money, fame and fortune.
White had earlier testified about her use of performance-enhancing drugs before the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, S. 529/U.S. Anti-Doping Agency on Tuesday, 2005-May-24.
Excerpted are statements White made during that testimony:
“Shortly thereafter [her graduation from the University of Tennessee, and return home to California to train under Remi Korchemny], in December, 2000, my coach introduced me to BALCO founder Victor Conte. Conte initially gave me a package containing both legal supplements, as well as a substance which later became known as the clear or the designer steroid THG. At the time, I was unaware that anything I received from Mr. Conte was a prohibited performance enhancing substance as I was told by both my coach and Mr. Conte that the vial they had given me contained flaxseed oil. A few weeks later, Mr. Conte admitted to me that the substance he had given me was indeed not flaxseed oil, but rather a prohibited substance that if not taken properly, could yield a positive drug test. I immediately ceased using the liquid because at that time in my career I did not believe it was necessary to take performance enhancing drugs to be competitive. I competed over the next two years without the use of any performance enhancing substances despite being constantly urged to do so. I was continuously being told that the usage of performance enhancing substances were necessary to be competitive because everyone else was doing so.”In a twist of fate, White, a former drug-cheat and a deceiver, stands to be the shining star in the BALCO bust by stating that she did, solemnly swear that she took undetectable substances which would be prohibited at all times had they been known – substances which should never be used.
“In March of 2003, I made a choice that I will forever regret. I visited Mr. Conte at his lab which was near my home, and we sat down and devised a program to utilize performance enhancing drugs in my training and competition. At that time, I began taking EPO, the clear (or THG), the cream and stimulants. I remained on this program over the course of four months, and with the help of Mr. Conte, I was able to pass 17 drug tests both in and out of competition while utilizing these prohibited performance enhancing substances.”
“A few weeks after the World Championships, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies raided the BALCO Laboratory. A few months later, I admitted to the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) officials what I had done as I have outlined for you today. I received a two-year ban from competition for my actions, as well as lost all of the results from my previous four years of competition. I also agreed to assist USADA in its mission to clean up sport, and now offer to be of service to this Committee in any way you see fit. I believe athletes who use performance-enhancing drugs are hurting themselves, cheating the public and betraying our youth. A performance-enhancing drug user trades his or her overall health, well-being and integrity for a shot at fame and fortune.”
“My attorney, Jerrold Colton, and I have worked with assisting USADA in its efforts, and we believe this Committee should further support USADA as the fight is a very difficult one. Being mindful that my use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs was not detected through the extensive testing I received, USADA needs the resources to go further in its fight to detect the people who are breaking the rules. The BALCO scandal may not have been discovered without a competitor’s coach anonymously sending a syringe of THG to the USADA testers which ultimately led to the discovery of this heretofore unknown steroid.”
Counsel for Tim Montgomery questioned White's motives in offering her testimony during CAS hearings against Montgomery and Chryste Gaines concerning Montgomery's use of the Clear and, more generally, his relationship with BALCO. They sought without success to impugn her honesty and to draw attention to White's own history of involvement with BALCO and her efforts to conceal that involvement. However, the CAS Panel declared its finding with respect to White's credibility as a witness in those proceedings and its view was that she was telling the truth.
USADA also believed White's having been up-front and personal in the matters concerning her drugs use proved to be an invaluable assett to her.
“Kelli White accepted accountability for her actions and she is able to look herself in the mirror and the world will forgive her,” said Travis Tygart, USADA's general counsel. “These two [Tim Montgomery and Chryste Gaines], for the rest of their lives, will go down as not only using drugs but doing everything possible -- and at great expense to clean athletes -- to avoid the truth.”Last time White spoke on the matter of BALCO and her drugs use, she was closer to the fall-out, and had fresh experiences from which to describe.
“I felt that to do this (drug use), I had to become someone totally different than I was. I had to compromise my integrity, my value system. I knew it was so wrong. “I look at that person and I'm like, 'That's not Kelli White. That's not who I am, who I started out to be.’”
White, in a story written by USA Today’s Dick Patrick, stated she felt betrayed by a coach with whom she reunited, and was provided drugs without her consent and she contends that Korchemny played clueless when he was indicted for BALCO involvement. She reveals to reporters in a Manhattan conference room in 2004-December that her performance-enhancing drugs usage began after her having later falling behind due to injury and seeing a rival athlete compete well at the 2003 USATF Indoor National Championships.
Despite the foregone conclusion that both White and Conte, two people who had stated they would like to clean up the sport have been deemed cheaters, and have broken a rule in society which is sacred to harmony and trust with others – with White also being deceived by Conte, they have both stated on record – in understandable second-grade terms, that they admit to their wrongdoings, and want to set the record straight as far as drug cheating and performance-enhancing drugs is concerned.
Marion Jones may attempt to take a cue from White's come to Jesus sermons offered up to boys and girls around the United States and take the higher, more moral ground in attempts to tell as much truth as possible. Her 15 minutes of fame have elapsed, however, and White has beaten her to the finish line fairly and squarely - one truthful statement at a time.
I wish White every success in her life's ventures -- despite the fact that in doing so I appear to be praising a "cheat" for coming clean when she should have never gone astray in the first place. There's a hard lesson learned in this mess somewhere, and White, victim of a facial stabbing near James Logan High School, her alma mater, seems poised to tell a good story with the best of intentions.