I have struggled for over two years to keep a lid on my real version of what I consider the Marion Jones story. I truly have.
It has been a remarkable test of strength to endure 27 months observing Marion Jones dance around the laws which govern this sport, and to contine flipping the bird to audiences behind a television set likely to have included your very own.
I have sounded off on the subject of Marion Jones more than anyone, I believe. I've been quite unlikeable at times due to my beliefs about Marion Jones, but I'm not in this for a popularity contest.
So Marion Jones is back in the news, and she wants to talk about her life. With Oprah. Of crime and punishment. Release and healing. Separation and anxiety. Chilling and numbing words of despair written to children whose mother was unable to lay them down to sleep for six long months.
Everything falls right into Oprah's hands, and it's fitting given the audience and demographics to which Oprah caters.
Marion Jones spoke to Oprah earlier this year before Marion Jones entered the penal system as Federal Inmate 84868-054, and she's speaking to her now that she's had six months to reflect on her previous life decisions and short-comings.
Unfortunately, there is no gain from Oprah's second interview with Marion Jones, as the same canned responses from her guest are sprayed about. There is nary a sign of meat which could enable the United States Anti-doping Agency and/or the World Anti-Doping Agency to perhaps gain momentum on drug cheats, exactly what Marion Jones is... check that, was. Marion Jones has no place left in the sport.
"They pulled out a vial and pushed it across the table," Marion Jones told Oprah during the taped interview, which is scheduled to be broadcast today on "The Oprah Winfrey Show."
"When they showed it to me and they said this is the substance, and I knew that I had taken that substance, I made the decision that I was gonna lie and I was gonna, you know, try and cover it up."
Yep. Lies and cover ups. Marion Jones has committed a U.S. Federal offence punishable by law and one which has demanded two years of supervision as well as retribution in the form of 800 hours of her time be donated to a community effort sufficient and approved by the courts.
Unfortunately, Oprah again fails to push Marion Jones to the limit on this one, and gives her guest an hour of time to talk about life then and now, of making mistakes and her desire to move forward. Marion Jones uses that time wisely, and skips right past "Go", on the performance-enhancing drugs board game.
It is a game Marion Jones is playing, and the greater the size you see her on your screen, the greater the lies and deceipt appear to be - one reason standing in an embrace with a powerful figure like Oprah can dwarf and dampen the focus a bit.
Sure, Marion Jones felt sorry for her own children during her incarceration, and even felt guilty about not being there. She states during the programme that she had her misgivings and short-comings due to her inability to love herself enough to tell the truth.
"I truly believe that the reason I made the awful mistake and a few thereafter was because I didn't love myself enough to tell the truth," she states in a letter to her children which she read on Oprah's programme.
Marion Jones has still fallen short of the self-help lessons on loving self and living free, for free from the past she shall never be until she gives a true and factual account of her involvement with performance-enhancing drugs - not that she was victim to a bad man's evil plans to sabotage her future.
Marion Jones made plenty of "mistakes" long ahead of the lies she told to US Federal agents in pursuit of justice in the BALCO case, yet apparently doesn't yet love herself enough to be truthful about the real story behind her athletics career. Forget loving you, her fans.
Insofar as Marion Jones has played victim to this entire affair of making poor choices and being conned into her eventual tie in with performance-enhancing drugs, I have taken it upon myself to help you gain a better appreciation of the people, action and challenges from which Marion Jones has been running, dodging and eluding since BALCO, Victor Conte and the entire affair became public record as well as those who enabled her to cheat and get away with it.
This will be the first of a very long account of Marion Jones's career, and will challenge you to be cautiously optimistic the next time a person comes out of the doldrums and advances quickly up the food chain without having had any (legal) nutrition or nourishment to get there, metaphorically speaking.
The forthcoming series is being written and published here as a concerted effort to equip, inform and involve you in a manner which keeps you in touch with the dirty secrets which have enabled Marion Jones's success to ensure you are able to actively take note the next time this occurs in this sport.
Given its shady history, and Marion Jones's own ability to remain elusive despite her pursuers, you can bet your house and home that something similar will occur with another star again.
“Nothing does more to diminish our potential - both as individuals and as a nation - than illegal drug abuse. The tragedy of so-called 'performance enhancing' drugs is that they foster the lie that excellence can be bought rather than earned and that physical potential is an asset to be exploited rather than a gift to be nurtured. Illegal steroid use calls into question not only the integrity of the athletes who use them, but the integrity of the sports they play. These drugs are bad for sports, bad for the players and bad for the young people who look to athletes as role models.”
US Attorney General John Ashcroft, 2004-02-12
HOW THE PURSUIT OF TRUTH AND LIBERATION BEGAN
“I was shocked when I was informed about the positive 'A' sample. I have requested that the testing of my 'B' sample be expedited and done as soon as possible. I would also like to note that only my lawyers have the authority to speak on my behalf in this matter, and I will have no further comment until the results of the 'B' sample are released.” Marion Jones, Monday, 21 August, 2006.
Yes, naturally, of course she was shocked.
She followed that statement with 15 days of silence.
And resumed with an utterance.
“I am absolutely ecstatic. I have always maintained that I have never ever taken performance enhancing drugs, and I am pleased that a scientific process has now demonstrated that fact.”
Marion Jones, Wednesday, 2006-September-06.
And more babble – this time, an all-inclusive one.
Robin Roberts: “So let me point-blank ask you again: Marion, have you ever, ever taken any type of sports performance-enhancing drug?”
Marion Jones: “Um...I have always said – and I will continue to say – that I believe in a drug-free sport, I have never, ever taken a performance-enhancing drug, and I’m just quite pleased, happy, ecstatic – any adjective to describe how I feel right now in terms of the fact that um, this “B”-sample proved that, um, that I have never taken a drug, and that I haven’t taken a drug.
“And I hope really, Robin that this whole situation with me is used as a catalyst – a catalyst for more research in testing, a catalyst for better confidentiality samples and just to protect the athletes,” Marion Jones stated during an interview on the American television programme “Good Morning America”, which broadcast on the ABC network Friday, 2006-September-08.
AND SO SHALL IT CONTINUE
The fight against doping in sport continues to demonstrate that anti-doping organisational effort, despite its best intention, can – and often does – lead to unfruitful results. Governmental effort, on the other hand, can – and does – lead to prison terms for those who have lied to federal agencies which do not tolerate bending of truth – no matter how insignificant it may seem at the time.
When BALCO was placed on the world map, the common thought which trickled down from law-enforcement agencies down to the anti-doping folks was that the majority of underground drugs and secret chemists were attached to that single, solitary distributor of illegal performance-enhancing drugs, and that Victor Conte, the company founder, was the big catch. Stopping Conte’s operation would put a stop to most illegal performance-enhancing drug trafficking, it was believed, and forcing Conte’s hand would root out the smaller fish in the pond as well.
Authorities nabbed Conte, but they were never able to force him to open up and deliver names, locations, dates and drugs his clients used, nor, more importantly, who his customers were. Conte decided to do that himself in a tell-all book due to be published later this year.
Conte’s say-nothing attitude toward the government, done so according to Conte to protect the integrity of all of the athletes caught in the BALCO trial, left smaller fish hoping larger-scale trials involving multiple persons would not result in outing them then.
They were able to remain secret until Trevor Graham and his big trial whisked on by and took the world by storm...again. Graham is a man who was caught in a desperate attempt to squirm from previous lies told to the government about his connections to drugs and drug dealers. His is a winded story which will get some print and discussion as this blog series unfolds, as he played a particular role in helping Marion Jones and other athletes cover up their lies about performance-enhancing drug use.
The drug game has appeared to shift toward the favour of the pursuers, namely the international anti-doping body, WADA, but the aftermath of BALCO is so far-reaching that one book on the topic would not serve justice to the subject.
Inasmuch as this blog series will be about justice and its pursuit of cheaters – specifically Marion Jones – and, to a lesser extent, Trevor Graham, you will witness a vast cover-up by a once-gifted athlete with more far-reaching impact on the sport of athletics than you may have ever imagined and the justice served her for her equal and opposite reward for her transgressions.
Marion Jones, the five-time Olympic medallist by method of fraud and deception, believed she was cast from being an American hero to a national disgrace before she turned herself in early to serve a six-month prison sentence for having twice lied to the government as a material witness in two important, unrelated cases.
That painful transformation provided a stern and public punishment for an athletic career she had been forced to leave following a lifetime of giving her all – a point she attempted to reason with Federal authorities.
Marion Jones, also stripped of world championship medals by the same method of fraud and deception, had taken on the backlash of public scorn from a nation that once adored her and called her its golden girl, and she wanted you and a judge from whom she was seeking mercy to know she’d be better of serving mankind outside of the iron gates which house people of similar discord who have wandered off desired societal paths in life, not behind them.
On 2008-January-11, when Marion Jones stood within the arms of justice’s wide-reaching grasp, she would be granted no such wish. Five months later, when the father of her first child would plead for mercy from that same judge, his and his own father’s words would not be met and returned with kindness.
Two months earlier, in November 2007, Marion Jones had publicly fallen from grace for sins against the institution of truthfulness, and she had been dealt severe punishments for her self-confessions, she believed; she had been stripped of certain gold medals, along with her accomplishments, her wealth and her public standing.
Marion Jones stood behind a microphone in October 2007 – with the entire world listening – and pretended to have cried in shame. Her articulation of her guilt – performed on queue with part of the reduced sentencing guideline requirements – were her efforts to come as clean as possible in order to be left alone to be an example to others – as a free individual slapped on the wrists, that is... or perhaps with an ankle brace attached as part of a home detention plan so she could continue raising her two boys.
She’d be granted no such reprieve by the Federal judge holding power over her – an upholder of the law to whom she called upon to “be as merciful as a human being can be”.
It had so become that Marion Jones felt so punished by those who once held her dear that she didn’t consider it justified to have her locked up for any period of time – however long or short. Her lawyers stated that by having confessed of her wrongdoings, she had lost the only livelihood she had ever known. They stated that her professional accomplishments, her financial security and her reputation were also severely and negatively impacted as a direct result of her dishonourable conduct and her resulting plea.
However, what is the equal and just reward for a pathological liar who obtained that livelihood, her accomplishments, her previous reputation and her financial well-being by method of fraud and deception?
Unfortunately for Marion Jones, her early Christmas wish-list vanished into thin air along with the truth those setting presents under the tree hoped she would reveal with regards to the darker side of her career. She was sentenced to six months imprisonment for lying to Federal authorities in two separate cases, and sat behind bars harbouring a secret concerning her love affair with performance-enhancing drugs, power and fame locked far into her inner soul.
Oprah is attempting to have a look inside of Marion Jones's soul today on her show. Unfortunately, what one will see is the same clinging on lies, lies and more lies.
And so the great chase began, and continues to this day insofar as Marion Lois Jones, a former athlete who was able to win Olympic medals by deceit, is unable to tell the truth concerning her rise and fall from the top.
This is Part 1.