Story by Eric.
(This is the eighth installment of a long series titled, "Why You Shouldn't Believe Marion Jones").
Marion Jones is a liar, and her attorneys did everything in their power to prove to the courts that she was a good-natured person who had simply made a mistake – her first one of criminal consequence. They also, apparently, did nothing as Marion Jones lied to the Federal agents despite her legal counsel’s pleas to speak truthfully whilst she was being interviewed in their presence.
They wanted you to see her as a humanitarian – a person of great devotion to her children, and one who has affected people in positive ways, not negative ones. They wanted you to see Marion Jones as a mother providing for her family; a contributor of good will toward all men through charity work; an ally to family and friends; and one who has provided humility and respect for others. Her chosen supporters also wanted you to see her as a God-fearing Christian.
They didn’t want you to view the persona that was Marion Jones, rather the person, or “the lesser-known side of Marion.”
Unfortunately, despite the spin control her support team attempted to put on her personal life, the sport of athletics viewed her as a liar.
And so did the U.S. Federal government, which has in no uncertain terms stated that “wilful and corrupt taking of a false oath in regard to a material matter in a judicial proceeding” is perjury and punishable by fine and/or imprisonment – or both. The U.S. Attorney’s Office stated of Marion Jones:
“Deceiving federal agents in the course of their investigations disrupts and impedes the proper administration of justice and is a serious matter. Even if the truth is eventually uncovered, the lies throw investigators off track, waste time and resources, and create a real risk of a miscarriage of justice.”
Over the course of her 13-year professional life, Marion Jones lied to herself. She lied to her family. Marion Jones lied to God, and asked for her own forgiveness. She even had the gumption to lie to Oprah of all people – a woman who had once interviewed Marion Jones on the importance of self-esteem, and who’d featured Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery on her show.
And she lied to you, me and everyone in between who ever watched her run a race as a professional athlete, notwithstanding any arbitrary dates Marion Jones provided the presiding judge in her case.
Now, following scrutiny and punishment – both in public and in the inner sanctuary of a court of law, she attempted to clear the air to the best of her ability, though those efforts would never reach far enough to expose the truth in its entirety – only parts of it. Partial truth is not complete truth, and is not truthful on its own.
The IAAF Council, held a formal meeting on Friday, 2007-November-23, and decided on six points concerning Marion Jones, but leaves Marion Jones’s career prior to judgment safe from further punishment:
IAAF Press Release on Marion Jones
Friday 23 November 2007
At its meeting held in Monaco on 23 November 2007, the IAAF Council reviewed the case of Marion Jones in light of her admission that she was using the prohibited substance known as 'the clear' beginning on 1 September 2000 and confirmed the following consequences of her admission of doping and acceptance of sanction:
1. A 2-year period of ineligibility beginning on the date of her acceptance of sanction on 8 October 2007 i.e., until 7 October 2009;
2. Disqualification of Marion Jones from all competitions on or subsequent to 1 September 2000.
3. Annulment of all her individual competitive results on or subsequent to 1 September 2000;
4. Annulment of the results of all relay teams in which she competed in IAAF competitions on or subsequent to 1 September 2000;
5. Forfeiture and return of all awards and medals obtained in relation to the above competitions;
6. Forfeiture and return of money awarded to her in relation to the above competitions. The IAAF Council further recommends to the IOC Executive Board to disqualify Ms Jones and the USA women's 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams from the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000 and to insist on the return of all medals and diplomas.
Marion Jones disappears from existence for a period of time. She’s gone as though she almost never existed. Her marks and places in one Olympic Games where she stole five medals by way of fraud and the subsequent IAAF World Championships are gone. Most people who merely follow along for the four-year ride between Olympiads will be glad justice was served and the evil-doer of the sport was finally put away. She won’t be able to compete again following the ban until she pays back the $700.000 she owes from having illegally collected prize money and appearance fees.
Moreover, 39 European meeting arrangers are suing Marion Jones for approximately $3.1 million dollars for prize and appearance fees she collected from 2000-2006 – the years she has had her results annulled.
If it were only that simple to cast away Marion Jones’s career as though this judgement captured the bulk of what she had done against the sport. In fact, it doesn’t. Marion Jones’s drug use began long before her date of admission of guilt, and her best marks long before she won – stole – Olympic gold. In fact, her previous results prompted her insanely high salary from Nike in her effort to win (steal) five gold medals in Sydney.
The just punishment the U.S. government decided to give her is equal in the matter of the jurisdiction of the judicial branch of the Government of the United States, to the degree of her having knowingly and willfully falsified, concealed, and covered up by trick material facts and made materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements or representations. That violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001 called for an imprisonment not more than 5 years, a fine, or both – so help the judge’s discretion.
Judge Karas’ discretion was used to draw a conclusion that six months confinement in Federal prison was the just punishment for such behavior and rule-breaking.
Expectedly, Marion Jones’s attorneys played her as the good girl in this story – a person who had no previous criminal history, and who is raising two small children – one of which has been raised for nearly four years without the biological father’s monetary assistance. They attempted to draw parallels to other law-breakers who have been granted a satisfactory sentence of probation rather than a custodial term, and hoped the Federal judge presiding over this case would draw a similar inference and conclusion.
They wrote in a memorandum to the United States prosecuting attorney that the mere fact that Marion Jones was convicted of the crimes of having made false statements should be deterrent enough to hinder others from following in the same footsteps; they argued that since Marion Jones had spoken about her lies, she had been “publicly shamed, vilified and excoriated.” Under those circumstances, they argued, “a custodial term is not necessary to achieve individual or general deterrence.”
I.R.S. Special Agent Jeff Novitzky persuaded Marion Jones to admit to her steroid use by using the leverage of the check-fraud charge against her. Each case carried the weight of their own punishments – a point Federal Judge Karas weighed one week before rendering effective her punishment before him in Courtroom 218 in the United States Southern District Court.
Even when the end times drew near, Marion Jones lied about how deep, how far and how involved she had been with the disgraceful subject of performance-enhancing drugs, and here’s why I believe that:
Marion Jones took performance-enhancing drugs in 2000 – a fact to which she has reluctantly admitted. What she has failed to admit is that it would have been as impossible now – as it was then – that in 1997 Marion Jones could have picked up her track spikes and become USA sprint champion following four years of either inactivity or very limited competition in an event which craves the utmost of physical training, races, timings and practice to power one’s body 100m down a lane built on a synthetic surface, and to do it in less than 11 seconds, nonetheless.
That Marion Jones was able to run sub-11 seconds isn’t the issue here. The fact that she did this with less than 13 weeks of training following four years of basic non-activity is.
Athletes – people – who make money through illegal means don’t simply turn and walk away once one particularly stated objective has been met. The implication made by the Sydney drug-taking is that Marion Jones needed fast recovery times between events in order to not succumb to the numerous strains she would have to endure in participating in five events – most of which had qualifying rounds or jumps. Marion Jones left Sydney with endorsements and marketing capabilities unrivalled by her peers. She began to form a certain lifestyle, and the expectation she had was one of maintaining it.
One doesn’t suddenly stop doping cold turkey and hope that their natural talent – something killed off by inactivity several years earlier – is able to take them through the rest of their career at the same level as they had been on drugs. Marion Jones wants you to believe, however, that she was unintentionally drugged during the timeframe she provided the U.S. District Court and that she found herself sluggish and tired once she stopped taking those drugs provided by Graham – in the end of 2002.
Marion Jones may want to point to her subsequent seasons as proof that she was not on performance-enhancing drugs, as her times and marks did not improve in any of her events following her departure from Trevor Graham’s camp, and that drugs were the reason she had done exceptionally well during the time-frame she stated.
This brings up a good point – one which asks how, therefore, did Marion Jones come out of nowhere in 1997 and not only take home national honours in the USA Championships by winning the 100m, but went on to win a world championship two months later – sufficiently recovering along the way and withstanding the duration of the season?
How did she put together a nearly undefeated season in 1998 – one which stretched her 36 competitions thin between the first and the final? If Graham, who was her coach, didn’t begin doping her until 2000, how did Marion Jones, who maintains to have not been doped, run the fifth-fastest 100m time in the history of the world and take home another world championship the preceding year in what was another very long and taxing series of trials, qualifications and finals?