Story by Eric.
This is the 10th in a very long Series about Marion Jones titled, "Why You Should Not Believe Marion Jones."
Marion Jones has found Jesus and confessed, but she’s shifted the blame of her game on the serpent of the story, Trevor Graham – a sneaky man whom she implied played dirty tricks with her trust. She went straight from the choir where she sang an old athletic hymn to the tune of oppression and denial – today becoming all-too-familiar – and headed straight past “go” right up to the confession room where a judge was standing with a record of her life...or a fraction of it, thereof.
Marion Jones sent a letter to friends and family on Thursday, 2007-October-5 explaining why she’d lied, and included nonsense about attempting to protect house and home, career and coach.
She then proceeded to court to face criminal charges for having misstated information whilst under oath. This wasn’t for one crime she committed. She stood wearing a dark suit jacket before a judge to swear before the magistrate that she would plead guilty to two charges. The first price she paid for it was in having to confess it.
The second was feeling the intense reality of the situation when taking a long walk up the US Federal courthouse steps on Friday afternoon, 2007-October-5, with her mother in New York to be processed, fingerprinted and booked by U.S. Marshals – procedures taken to ensure that Marion Jones would officially be recorded as a suspect of criminal activity.
She was released on her own recognizance following the guilty plea, and was handed her sentence on Friday, 2008-January-11 – a date she officially became a criminal ward of the United States Federal justice system, with detainment date set for 2008-March-11 at the minimum-security Carswell Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas – a place which has a mandatory five-count daily procedure to ensure no one fleet afoot makes way to greener pastures.
Marion Jones, who became known for putting up numbers which would later be erased and expunged, did inherit a Federal inmate detention number – one which will stick with her in the back of her mind each of the remaining days, months and years of her life.
Marion Jones’s ties to Victor Conte fall deep, and now they include connections in life, liberty and the pursuit authorities have made to pin ink on guilty thumbprints belonging to both of those individuals to match of their specific crimes. Marion Jones, as did Conte, pled guilty to two felony charges – though hers were obstruction of justice and making false statements to agents during the check fraud investigation (identified later in this book). She agreed to not appeal the judge’s decision so long as she was not sentenced to more than six months in prison.
She received exactly six months.
What she failed to agree to was to offer condolences to former teammates for the losses they suffered when the International Olympic Committee on Thursday, 2008-April-10 removed Marion Jones and her teammates from the 4x100m and 4x400m winner’s tables. Neither did she ask for a pardon from her peers who finished fourth in the 2000 Olympic Trials and 2001 World Championships – folks who missed out on their championship-level aspirations due to the actions a cheat took to ensure she finished first.
USATF, her presiding athletics federation, provided express disapproval of Marion Jones’s actions.
“USA Track & Field condemns drug use by any athlete, and we are extremely disappointed in Marion Jones and the lies she has told regarding her use of performance-enhancing substances. Her fellow competitors, teammates and the sport are paying the price for her mistakes, and her admission cannot erase that damage.
“The sport of track and field and the Olympic movement continue to make a strong statement in punishing athletes who use drugs, and we have made great progress in that fight in recent years. The lessons of the BALCO scandal still shape how we battle drug use and drug culture, just as our clean athletes continue to set an example for how to win the right way. We hope all athletes, whether youth athletes, professionals or recreational athletes, heed the lessons from Marion Jones' experience, and that they make the right decision to compete cleanly and honestly.”
Sydney 4x400m gold medallists – including alternates – Jearl Miles-Clark, Monique Hennagan, Andrea Anderson and LaTasha Colander-Richardson forfeited their possession and honour as victors due to Marion Jones’s actions. Chryste Gaines, Torri Edwards, Nanceen Perry, Passion Richardson as starters and alternate in the 4x100m were also required to turn over their goods to the International Olympic Committee and pretend as they never existed – an order to which Gaines protested and does not want to adhere.
Gaines says she will not return the bronze medal she won on the 4x100-meter relay team even if the IOC requests she do so.
“I’m not considering giving anything back,” Gaines said. “If the IAAF or IOC contacts me, I still will not give it back. It's not fair to us who didn't do anything.”
Gaines did a lot more than she alludes to, with more of that following later in this book.
Reuters cited on 2007-10-08 that Marion Jones did want to apologise to her competitors and wanted the record books to be amended to accurately reflect their achievements, though Marion Jones has said nothing of the demise which faces her teammates, of whom the USOC requested to turn in their medals.
“Our opinion is that something was won unfairly and it has completely tarnished the relay events,” Mr Scherr said.
“We impress upon those athletes to return the medals to the IOC.”
The USOC also stated that it would seek restitution from Marion Jones for more than $100.000 in bonus money it paid to her for winning those medals, as did organisers for European track meets DN Galan in Stockholm and Bislett Games in Oslo, who stated that Marion Jones had won prize money and been paid appearance money as a result of fraud.
Gaines, like Jones, was deeply embroiled in the BALCO performance-enhancing drugs conspiracy, making half of the USA 4x100m team drug-enhanced; this will be a second slap on the wrist for Gaines.
Colander created a foundation in 2000 called LC Treasures to help assist young adults who have self-esteem and empowerment issues. On her website, Colander says that the primary goal of her foundation is “to remove barriers that prevent youth from succeeding as athletes and in all other worthwhile endeavors.”
Colander now faces the challenge of explaining to children how to continue on when things out of one’s control happen, and how cheating oneself and others never wins.
Miles-Clark, who had publicly defended Marion Jones against drugs allegations, was now put into a tight spot whereby she had to both confess to having been lured by Marion Jones, and be cast into suspicion, herself as part of the gold medal-winning 4x400m relay team, and as an individual who excelled both as a 400m and 800m runner – results of Marion Jones’s mistakes, she’d state.
Dick Pound agreed with the non-sympathetic view of Marion Jones’s plight, stating:
“Marion Jones deserves no sympathy,” he said. “The paper trail led back to her and she has been systematically lying for years. She is responsible for the suspicion now on every other athlete.”
Gaines, on the other hand, disagreed:
“As soon as it comes up, everybody shuns you. That's what's happening to Marion now. As soon as it came up, nobody supported her again. She's still human. You can't leave people out like that. I don't feel her penalty is undeserved. She made some poor decisions, but I don't think she made them alone. Coaches, attorneys and agents made plenty of money off of her. For her to be the only person to take the brunt is kind of unfair.”
Marion Jones isn’t taking the brunt of the penalty due her.
Conte paid his dues, and Trevor Graham is now paying his in proper time as well – the entire 12 months he gets to sit home and ponder life’s finer points.
Whether or not Marion Jones made her decisions alone or not isn’t what is up for debate. That she chose to say “yes” and “no” to whom, for whom and with whom under her own power and authority is what is hanging over her head.
There is not a single, solitary sliver of substantiation that this was anyone else's fault than Marion Jones’s, though in the witness stand, she chose to make it Graham’s fault – as Montgomery took the opportunity afforded him to blame his own depressing state of affairs regarding the counterfeit checks on Marion Jones.