Story by Eric.
(This is the third installment in a long series on Marion Jones, titled: "Why You Shouldn't Believe Marion Jones").
This is the final part of the forward to which you have been reading. I have respectfully called you here to review a case about a conniving woman who committed deliberate, pre-meditated first-degree unlawful choice to defraud the sport of athletics and the basis upon which it measures and grants honours for superior achievement, and, secondarily – if not simply for material reasons, about the same person’s lies to agents attempting to solve a separate complex crime.
You’ve also been called to connect the dots between her and a man who trained her to become what nature could not produce through her or any other of his dozen or so athletes who were ultimately locked into deceptive ways through their drug-taking and cover-ups. In having defrauded the sport of athletics, Marion Jones did – through a conscious objective – immorally and unlawfully collect honour, reputation and compensation bestowed upon victors and cause rightful recipients of such achievements to permanently lose the just reward for their hard work and achievement.
That she has cheated and been sentenced is not the point of this blog series.
This is a case about a woman who, with the aid of her then-husband and her former coach, did wilfully and by design craft a scheme of wrongdoings which abused a parameter-less trust level containing international, multi-dimensional and multi-cultural layers, and has not been called to justice for those offences which she has not made known; this is about a woman who, to this day, still is unable to speak truthfully and freely – despite what public opinions may have been gathered and swayed her way after two television appearances on Oprah.
And finally, ladies and gentlemen, this is also a case containing a consistent theme from Marion Jones’s former attorneys, namely one of reasonable doubt.
Marion Jones’s first set of attorneys had, prior to her confession of being a drug cheat, reminded the world time and again that there was reasonable doubt to trust the accuracy of tests and the veracity of testimonies provided by people who had accused their client of taking performance-enhancing drugs.
Throughout the course of this blog series you will see tricks they attempted to use to have people like you, whilst deliberating among yourselves at your places of work, amongst your peer groups or simply alone after reading a news story about their client, base your decisions about Marion Jones on a creed which states that should you have even a single thread of doubt about the claims made against their client, you would need to acquit her based on the possibility that your doubt was reasonable and true; their aim and goal in the history collected in this blog series will be to have you review each purported “offense” case-by-case, item-by-item and ask you, based on the sum of the parts if the whole was, indeed, infected.
Yet these same attorneys, having had legal precedence granting such permission, will not ask you to consider if the evidences Marion Jones had provided in her defence – up to, and including her claim of one shoe fits all – did, in fact, advance beyond plausibility any and all reasonable doubt that those evidences were true. Granted, it was not their job to provide you with proof beyond a reasonable doubt, as that is the job of those who are accusing her of wrongdoing. However, before Marion Jones was accused in a court of law of wrongdoing and found guilty by her own admission to the facts brought forth against her, she decided in a 2006 television interview to take one final stab at a proclamation of innocence – broadcasting that she was vindicated by a scientific test which wiped away suspicion from her once-and-for-all. Having done so, she opened the door of pretence even wider, forced immediate defence against such claims, and ultimately inherited the responsibility to provide factual information which could substantiate those statements.
And may I state in plain English, ladies and gentlemen, Marion Jones tendered no such offer of explanation until well past the hour of redemption in 2007. She decided during the meantime, rather, to hide behind obscurity and kept herself out of the spotlight to the best of her ability. Reasonable doubt is, in all actuality, doubt, and it is a reasonable basis upon which one can lay claim to being certain about guilt – as much as it is used as a basis for defining the certainty of a defendant’s lack of guilt.
Marion Jones has confessed of cheating – make that lying, but she has still left reasonable doubt available as to the veracity of her contrition, because her “confession” came about when she understood that keeping up with the Jones’s in the lie department would lead to a longer jail sentence – one where she’d trade the pin-striped suit she wore before U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth M. Karas for pin-stripes of a different variety in a concrete house far, far from home. Judge Karas, who was nominated to the U.S. District Court on 2003-September18 by U.S. President George W. Bush – and who had received a favourable rating from the American Bar Association, has historically not take perjury charges – those which hung over Marion Jones’s head – lightly.
Judge Karas was formerly known as an “al-Qaida expert” for his assistance in successfully prosecuting four of Osama bin Laden’s followers in 1998. He prosecuted as the U.S. Assistant attorney during the 1998 bombings of two American Embassies in Africa by al-Qaida members, and reminded the presiding judge over the case, Judge Sand, that one of the defendants, El-Hage, had had thwarted the federal investigation (words used today to describe the Marion Jones case) by perjuring himself before a Federal Grand Jury in 1997 before the attacks and in 1998, afterward.
Judge Sand, agreed with Karas, stating that El-Hage had committed perjury and that “the actions are what one looks to.”
The actions of perjury were what Judge Karas had on his agenda, and on 2008-January-04 he asked Marion Jones’s legal counsel and the prosecuting attorneys how much latitude he had in imposing consecutive sentences for the two unrelated criminal charges Marion Jones was facing. Ultimately, he chose to give her a six-month sentence, reminding Marion Jones that she was a role model, and that hers was a world-wide lie.
Judge Karas, who was nominated to his post by a count of 95-0 by The United States Senate, also did not buy the story Marion Jones told regarding her knowledge of performance-enhancing drugs, namely that they were provided to her by Trevor Graham without her knowledge. Judge Karas told Marion Jones that he was troubled by her statements and explanation about the drugs which she stated she didn’t know were in her body, stating that he found it “a very difficult thing to believe” that she “would not be keenly aware” of the effects those had on her results and her training as it occurred, and of what she put into her body.
“That's a very difficult thing to believe that a top-notch athlete, knowing that a razor-thin margin makes the difference, would not be keenly aware and very careful about what he or she put in her body, and the effects.”
Lying is an ill which tears at the moral fibre upon which society is based, and it is partly for that reason that Marion Jones was unable to be granted a non-custody sentence by the Federal government.
Marion Jones, having taken an oath before a officer in which a law of the United States authorised an oath to be administered, did not testify, declare, depose, or certify truly statements which had a material impact on their respective cases, and thus did wilfully and contrary to such oath state material matter which she knew not to be true.
Cheating is not lawful in the sport of athletics. Marion Jones may have had a dream of making much out of wasted opportunity and transforming herself back to an athlete who could dominate at will when she hung up her basketball shoes in the spring of 1997, but the laws which govern this sport do not permit anyone to cheat – no matter if they would never get caught.
Marion Jones, ladies and gentlemen, believed she would never get caught.
Marion Jones actively participated in a sport under oath to be governed by rules and regulations which specifically and categorically prohibit illegal aiding, tightly monitors supplements which athletes use to maintain their levels of fitness, and one which limits those of natural consequence, namely wind – a force of nature, to a specific allowance per second. Performances impacted by forces of nature which aid past an agreed upon approval are not accepted in her sport; performances aided by illegal products are undeniably and unequivocally illegal.
Lying and cheating, both considered criminal conduct according to Judge Karas, could not “be written off as a momentary lapse of judgment or a one-time mistake.”
There were no shortage of opportunities to receive the anti-doping messages sent out by her governing body, USATF, or USADA, which had made concerted efforts to inform athletes of the ethics – and consequences – involved in performance-enhancing drugs and their associate health risks.
They continue to make such information readily available to athletes today.
Marion Jones chose to ignore those multiple messages regarding her responsibility to conform to those initiatives, including an athlete’s newsletter – The Playing Field TM, the Athlete Handbook, and The Journey...the Struggle with Ethics in Sport – all printed publications all available through USADA – an entity which also has had specific internet-based anti-doping initiatives targeted at athletes and has held symposiums on anti-doping science.
There was a methodology behind that, namely that Marion Jones had already encroached upon the zone marked for safety between right and wrong – cheating and not, and with the mounting monies earned and prizes collected, there was no turning back.
And so it is that during your time here, you will read a logical progression of witness testimony which specifically and undoubtedly named Marion Jones as a cheat each and every time she declared she wasn’t, and you will read counter arguments from her attorneys stating that there were credibility issues with those who bore witness against their client – a frivolous tactic which eventually wasted time, money and U.S. government resources.
Each one of those vicious denials was an act of deliberate deception, however; those were mere distractions which had no basis in the truth and were designed to obscure the fact that Marion Jones was guilty of doping and cover-up of such actions. Marion Jones committed to these facts by an admission led by her own will, but the forces acting behind that admission of guilt had already been set in motion by prosecuting attorneys.
Witness by witness in this blog series will reveal information which not only implicated Marion Jones and made her complicit to drugs usage, but who also stated they had directly participated in Marion Jones’s performance-enhancing drugs taking or witnessed her doing so. Yet Marion Jones will not ultimately go down for taking drugs, rather for lying about having done so.
Ladies and gentlemen – my peers, inasmuch as I didn’t live inside of Marion Jones’s world as an athlete, nor as a retired veteran of the sport, I have asked myself on several occasions one simple question which I believed would warrant an uncomplicated answer, namely why would Marion Jones cheat?
Evidence on the surface points to a demonstrated and deep-rooted desire she had to win and attempt to become the greatest athlete in the history of the sport.
The underlying reason, however, were flaws in her character, namely deception and greed. Abraham Lincoln once stated that nearly all men can stand adversity, but if one wants to test a man's character, give him power.
Marion Jones had been motivated by money, power and their combined benefits – and spent her athletics life in selfish ambition of retaining those.
She, having the means to mask drugs over a period of time, had the opportunity to win a number of races. Those victories enabled her to command a large sum of prize money and appearance fees. Those also provided her lucrative contracts with sponsors in agreement that her name would help them sell more products and put more people in the stands at athletics meetings. The combined cycle of win-and-take took Marion Jones to the top of her world, she was labelled a leader, and she was also labelled one of the 10-most powerful black women of her time.
Marion Jones tripped over that power, however, and as part of the exercise you’ll undertake to connect the dots through, to and around Marion Jones, you will come to understand the process by which she was exonerated from a failed drugs test and the truth about the manner and fashion by which this exoneration was crafted and enabled; in other words, you will understand that the events which led to the revelation of that failed drugs test was a calculated cover-up to a much larger issue, and was used to mask another problem Marion Jones had been facing – one which greatly encroached on her continued pursuit of power, money and greed and caused her to finally slip and fall to the absolute bottom.
You will also read the expert testimony of hired men her attorneys brought aboard who were connected to the 2006 drug case in no other capacity than to refute the evidences provided by the laboratory which had, based on its extensive experience with such test specimens, declared an initial drugs screening positive for a banned substance commonly known as “EPO” – a drug which Marion Jones would later be connected to from an earlier time period.
This failure and diversion would be Marion Jones’s last in a career littered with hit-and-miss opportunities with the alphabet soup organisations attempting to catch her in a drugs scandal.
A great part of this volume of information is meant for the encouragement of those who may have long since believed certain improprieties had existed concerning Marion Jones, but who were awaiting due process to run its course before making public judgment calls based on those assertions. The EPO exposure, though it was crafted to exonerate Marion Jones, began that process for many of you insofar as it provided you with a more solidified basis upon which to make your judgments against her.