(This is the second installment in a long series on Marion Jones, titled: "Why You Shouldn't Believe Marion Jones").
A bulletin board post on the Oprah Winfrey Show following Marion Jones’s first post-prison interview stated:
“The root of penitentiary is penitence. You are supposed to use the time to reflect on how you arrived there and develop a plan of action ro [sic] return to integrity. Lie to the world but never lie to yourself. If you want to regain your self-respect, you have to become more self-reflective.”Marion Jones’s surrender to Federal prison – she’d inherited inmate number 84868-054 – had been unlike any previous experience she has ever had, to say the least. She had four hours of daily free time, work detail, mandatory reporting for lockdown and lights out at 23.00. She’d been required to work as she is “medically able”, and she had had access to the TV room, library and recreation facilities.
The crash-course into prison had been quite unassuming and par for the criminal course – one Marion Jones began charging toward after intentionally disregarding the honoured value of truth when she lied to Federal agents acting in full capacity as extensions of the government which sent them on a search for the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth in two matters concerning lawless acts of deception and fraud.
First and foremost in matters concerning the penal system, Marion Jones was not released from her sentence early for good behaviour, and thankfully for justice’s sake, she didn’t have to stand before a parole board under the guise of reform pleading for early release. Marion Jones will be required to serve the entire sentence in accordance with the United States Federal Sentencing Guidelines enacted in 1987. Good behaviour time reductions occur at a rate of 54 days for every 12 months served after the first 366 days.
The day that Marion Jones surrendered to Federal custody on her own accord (self-surrender) – 2008-March-7, she drove up to the receiving gate of the prison complex – which is where she was also discharged upon completion of her six-month term – and picked up the phone to reveal her identity and alert the authorities that she was there to self-surrender. She then headed inside of the facility for processing, which involved filling out several administrative forms, being fingerprinted, photographed, and visually searched for contraband and/or any other prohibited materials; officers conduct routine searches of her living quarters. She received a prisoner badge to wear on her person at all times.
Marion Jones was then issued clothes to wear inside of her dormitory and was provided sheets, a blanket and a pillow rolled up to take to her four-women living quarter.
She was then interviewed by medical staff that Friday to check on her physical and mental conditions, and to ascertain if there were any medications she would have needed whilst under their care – items previously prescribed by her physician. Unfortunately, there was no check for a mental state characterized by pathological lying. From that time forward, she had life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness quite arrested until such time that she was released to the probation officer responsible for her lawful behaviour on the outside of the prison walls.
Now that Marion Jones’s has been released from prison and has headed into a two-year probation phase – she’d been transferred from Fort Worth to CCM San Antonio, a lower-level jail in San Antonio, Texas on 2008-August-23, and released at 08.00 on Friday, 2008-September-5, inmates left behind to serve their own time may recall the days, hours, weeks and months they shared time and space with a famous athlete who was once able to travel the world, wear expensive Nike shoes and appear in catchy commercials. They’ll tell stories to new interns about how the Marion Jones they saw was an ordinary person who got mixed up with bad men who took advantage of her, others will say Marion Jones pretty much kept to herself and was rather invisible.
Some will tell stories of how she had family visitors every Saturday and Sunday, but never had her kids - they were in Barbados, sent away to Obadele Thompson's relatives prior to Marion Jones ending up in prison.
Finally, some will undoubtedly say of Marion Jones, “she was one of us.”
Or, then, again, maybe “one of us” may take on a completely different meaning than can be issued here.
Montgomery, also a convicted criminal, stated that he had gone from world’s fastest man to a criminal sitting next to murderers and paedophiles in a place where his previous status played no part in how he was treated inside the jail.
Nevertheless, Marion Jones was also one of the elite athletes in the world, too, but stung track and field considerably with her deception. Renaldo Nehemiah, the former 110m hurdles world record-holder, appreciated Marion Jones’s candour in stating she had lied to investigators and misled her fans, but stated that her confession didn’t take away the sting of her actions.
“She was one of us”, Nehemiah would state following Marion Jones’s sentencing date with respect to her membership in the world’s elite.
Marion Jones has now been part of a lot of fraternities over the past decade now that she has endured her short prison sentence: the marriage club, the superstar athlete social society, the Olympics club, the liars club, cheaters anonymous and the Federal convict fellowship. And, she will have shared most of it with Montgomery, the father of her first child.
And so the fable/myth/story of Marion Jones’s sudden rise to the top and her marathon-long flight to the bottom begins – or ends...it depends solely on your vantage point, and how late you joined the game. If you happened to miss a step as you’ve traveled down this slippery slope of Marion Jones’s career, roll your clock back five years to 2003.
Five years ago, Marion Jones was adjoined at the hip with BALCO Laboratories, and was rocked through a challenging period which exposed her as a possible drugs cheater who had been accused of having been involved in the schemes implemented by a devious man and his ambitious cohorts operating a performance-enhancing drugs company in Burlingame, CA, USA.
Trevor Graham, who turned in the syringe which exposed BALCO, was also thrust into the limelight, though, according to him, as the good guy doing the right thing in the affair. The courts eventually agreed with him to a certain extent.
Marion Jones, covering up her tracks through one of the longest periods of deception known to the sport, stood up in a court of law to which she had been summoned later that year, raised her hand and swore to tell the entirety of the truth – nothing but the truth – so help her God. She then attempted to walk away from the chambers as cleanly as she entered – with dust under her feet, but with a spotless character and perfect drug-testing record still intact.
Trevor Graham, her first coach as a professional athlete, also swore to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth – so help him God, when he was interviewed later by IRS agents sniffing out a trail of indiscretion and deceit leading Graham’s direction.
Marion Jones walked straight through the doorway from the court, into the hallway leading back to her future, and she proceeded down an elevator from the 17th floor of the 81-metre high-rise Federal Courthouse in the SOMA district of San Francisco, CA, to a place where she could run as quickly away from the lie she had moments before told before authorities.
She’d pulled one over on the Grand Jury, but she knew it could only be a matter of time before her deception would be unearthed. It took an unrelated charge – one of lying to Federal authorities in the Montgomery case – to find a few gold nuggets in the BALCO case; the authorities were able to have her confess to a period of time in which she had cheated, but did not capture the entire story as it related to her entire career.
Marion Jones couldn’t run far enough or fast enough – she was a sprinter, and by nature, didn’t possess the endurance for the marathon event which the BALCO investigation became, to outrun her own shadow, though it lay four years behind in time. The long arm of the law caught up with her and snatched her from her spot under a rock, and ultimately put her in a very hard place paid for by other people’s money – a common theme you’ll come to realize as you make your way through this blog series.
Marion Jones was not charged in Federal court that day in November 2003 with committing a crime – having stated under oath before that Grand Jury hearing her testimony that she had never taken performance-enhancing drugs.
Many of her supporters and folks with general athletics knowledge, when they learned of Marion Jones’s having been called to testify in the case, believed that she was a credible woman who simply had made erroneous decisions with men in her life and wrote off the allegations – desiring no less than the finger-pointing sans real evidence to cease and desist with immediate effect, and for Marion Jones to continue on in the sport as she saw fit.
Then Marion Jones was again pegged as a drug user in 2006 when, following a leaked EPO test result which was collected through a urine specimen at the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, she was determined to have failed the initial “A”-sample test. She provided excuse matter which the world at large bought with a steep price, and Marion Jones believed she would escape further scrutiny as she quietly walked away from a tumultuous season – never to return to the sport.
She would be granted no such reprieve, however, as she would have to face yet another test – one with enduring, painful and immediate consequences – in having cited to the world that she was a crook, a thief and a mockery to the sport which had so dearly adopted her, the “golden girl” – but to a degree lesser than the actual crimes she committed.
And she’d be proven to have taken EPO on earlier occasion, despite her excuse of being “shocked” at never having heard of the drug prior to being accused of having it in her system in 2006; her coach, Trevor Graham, had previously dispensed it to another of his prodigy athletes. Such a mockery had she been to the spirit of fair competition that she would also be banned two years from the sport despite “retiring”. Adding further fuel to the fire surrounding her offenses, Marion Jones may also be banned from attending any Olympic Games in an official capacity for the rest of her life – including banishment as a coach, an athlete or even a media representative, for example.
The year 2008 was an Olympic year, and Marion Jones spent her late summer days under the eye of a U.S. government as a parolee whilst making monthly calendar visits to a probation officer once she was released from Federal on 2008-September-5. The events would be sad had it not been for Marion Jones’s bullying and utter contempt for telling the truth.
The sole basis of this blog series has been written to inform you of falsifications Marion Jones has stated in her attempts to justify, validate and substantiate her hidden connections to performance-enhancing drugs, and to depict for you sequences of events in Marion Jones’s life and Trevor Graham’s existence which have obscured views into drugs-taking – up to, and including – Marion Jones’s timely admission of drugs-taking on the 5th day of October, 2007 and Graham’s trial in May.
The fifth day of October, 2007 was a Friday morning, ladies and gentlemen – a day which finally set in motion wheels of justice to methodically walk – not race – a straight line to the finish line of this marathon chase for freedom on a different long Friday, the 11th day of January, 2008. It also granted Marion Jones an opportunity she finally took as a last-ditch effort to experience a personal freeing liberty, which, now having been exercised, was meant to lift and transform the burden of suspicion she was facing throughout her past into an admittance and closure – one which was to now allow her to move forward away from this sport into a future of her so choosing – save the probation offices’ dictation.
That idea, however noble, was a fleeting one, as Marion Jones’s confession did not contain any substance of great importance, and, rather than liberating her, it made her even more captive to the lies she had so dearly held on to.
In the words of USADA’s Travis Tygart, “The outcome of this story is a valuable reminder that true athletic accomplishment is not obtained through cheating and any medal acquired through doping is only fool's gold.”
Your participation in reading this blog series will at times be likened to being called for jury service, with your specific duty to take into account the actions and words Marion Jones, the defendant, has demonstrated throughout what will be a very long case about abuse of power, theft of identity, and fleecing of a public.
It is part of the beauty of the inherent gifts we have as human beings to think critically and logically, and to apply knowledge to what which we hear and read which is meant to govern our thoughts and enforce certain actions based thereon. The judge in the real case of The United States of America vs. Marion Jones did exercise his gift to think logically and critically in weighing the actions Marion Jones committed against the requests for leniency she later made of him, and sentenced her to prison for misleading and misguiding the government in their attempts to foil crimes where they had been committed.
You, being of sound mind and possessing the capacity to exercise excellent reasoning capabilities – knowing how to distinguish what is good for you – heed then, therefore, to these very words written in this blog series, and guard them with deep commitment to preserve truth. I admonish you to never at any time during the course of this series raise your hands above your ears – as to cover them – no matter how loud the noise level begins to rise in here.
Every word spoken by Marion Jones contains a level of depth that can be understood by children, and her screaming and lying will at times remind you just how childish and selfish Marion Jones has at times really been – despite her new husband’s revelation of her seriousness and passion of being a kind, gentle, giving mother.
Marion Jones has stated on two separate occasions that she would like the events in her life to be a catalyst of sorts, so teach your children the importance of history, and keep them away from repeating the events forthcoming in this story – for the equal and just reward of such behaviour is a scorn and peril too much to bear on one’s own shoulders – despite how wide, how broad, and how strong those axels may be. Even if your name is Marion Jones, and you pretend it makes little difference.
Marion Jones, in the end, could not bear the weight, and needed her second husband’s shoulders to cry on, and he, having cried at her sentencing, had no one to support his broken spirits.
Finally, make yourself a life-long commitment to never, ever as a fan of sport re-live through the following events again, opting next time to keep a cautious optimism alive while taking time to read the writings on the wall – even if they are scribbled in crayon.
1 Reuters, “Marion Jones Banned Two Years,” 2007-10-08