Why You Shouldn't Believe Jones: Vol. 11

Story by Eric.

This is the 11th in a long series about Marion Jones and her lack of truthfulness titled, "Why You Shouldn't Believe Marion Jones."

There is one prevailing, unequivocal truth concerning Marion Jones, and that is that she has a flare for the dramatic and has preferred living on the edge – in the numerous competitions in which she participated, in the company she kept, in the finances she apparently maintained, and, ultimately, between time spent on the outside and the inside of prison doors as a result of walking along that tightrope spanning between either side of excellence and disaster.

Marion Jones has appeared to live in extremes between two ends, with an all-or-nothing approach to much of what she has said and done, and what she saved and what she allowed to slip on through her fingers as though a faucet of opportunity would be turned on with an abundance of more time, more opportunity and more money.

Fitting examples of this materialized when Marion Jones’s “A”-sample EPO test was mysteriously leaked to the media (The Washington Post’s Amy Shipley, seemed first to reveal the news to be precise), followed by news of her “B”-sample counter result, and her liquid assets around the world were discovered to be $2.000 following years of fighting drugs-speculation – including defence of that “A”-sample test. Marion Jones turned from a fortress defender to a basement dweller in a moment’s notice, and all on the turn of a dime.

Marion Jones, within a two-and-a-half week period of time stretching six time zones around the world, stated she had a kaleidoscope of emotions swerve about, having been both shocked and horrified, and ecstatic and happy surrounding one of the latest chapters in her athletic life – one she stated was invariably spoiled by bad company and drugs accusations.

Having the theatre of her life opened for everyone looking in to see, Marion Jones sold the public a forged ticket at base rate and wanted people like you – and I – to ride on away with our most basic of human possessions, insight, with no intention on questioning its authenticity or pondering its significance – or to consider if the ticket she sold was the counterfeit of a true one.

That is a ploy and tactic which worked well for her on numerous previous occasion, and one which she used again to ease out of the sport into “retirement” – though “ban” is the official word which will be used to describe her quick exit from athletics.

Truth was meant to be revealed, ladies and gentlemen, during Marion Jones’s closest physical contact to any substantial “evidence” which could have implicated drugs usage in the living form of an “A”-positive EPO test. That “truth” was to wait an additional 14 months before being strewn across a walk of lies meant to have a semblance of authenticity.

Non-analytical positive “evidence” would circulate the following year when she spoke of having had taken performance-enhancing drugs – though she spoke not of the EPO test, itself, nor diverted any attention away from it, either. Journalists around the world were quick to respond to the EPO test, itself, and just as quick to forget it ever occurred – opting for the sure bet in using Marion Jones’s own words against her through her confession.

The scientific process of testing that evidence in the follow-up “B”-sample results exonerated Marion Jones at that time from any doping condemnation, save IAAF or WADA resurrections or reversals of fortune in the findings procedures – a legal process they had at their disposal. Her acquittal also put to death – by her own means – any redemptive grace she had available when she stated that one, single, solitary re-test of stored urine performed 75 days after her initial test – which revealed substances considered to the trained eye to be truthful, reliable and accurate depictions of drugs usage in the form of EPO – clearly, accurately and completely covered all of her previous drugs screenings.

Robin Roberts missed a cue step there. Many others didn’t, however.

Marion Jones’s credibility was red-lined with extreme prejudice (scientific processes, bearing no guilt or conscious regarding the subjects for which they are in place to query, are aimed to do if one is to believe the reliability and accuracy of the outcome) during that chapter in her career – a wait-and-see period, resulting in what she stated made her happy she had been proven to never have taken drugs...ever...at any time then or before.

This period also revealed a quality flaw in her character which has become more pronounced with every application, namely cover-up and re-invention of facts and stories as Marion Lois Jones saw fit.

This is one reason why it is imperative that Marion Jones’s words not be taken to heart, rather simply as cues to lead to other, more involved secrets stored in her well of misrepresentation – and one more reason to not believe Marion Jones only began taking drugs in September 2000 and concluded her usage two years later.

The entire ordeal – from her stating she had her initial test released unjustly, to having been accused of taking a drug which she stated she had never heard of – caused her to become shocked, she stated. Marion Jones, the devoted internet user who apparently had never much been involved in discussions surrounding EPO, stated that she was deeply perplexed and disheartened to learn that she could have yet again been entangled in a drugs mess associated with her name.

In an instant, without forewarning, the woman who had taken a persevering, unwavering, strong-armed approach to proclaiming her innocence with a peculiar bravery and confidence – surrounded by legal counsel and a public relations firm – had become a daunted and staggering recluse who, upon hearing this news, took time to immediately go online after finding out she had tested positive to see what it was that she had supposedly ingested.

The results spelled out a short three-letter acronym: EPO – a drug she’d later be connected to by ledgers and calendars released as evidence against her as well as testimony Angel Heredia would provide in Trevor Graham’s trial, namely that Heredia mailed Marion Jones EPO at Graham’s request, and that counselled Graham on how to have Marion Jones administer it.

Marion Jones stated that she had heard mention of the drug (“erythropoietin” is a hormone that boosts oxygen levels in the blood by prompting the bone marrow to produce more red blood cells), but said that she never really knew much about it. That would later prove to have been a lie – one of many she’d tell you and me.

Some of you believed that was fair, as its name in the long form is not topic of every day dinner-table discussion. EPO, however, has likely been mentioned out and about – here and there, but Marion Jones likely had neither a reason – nor the occasion – to discuss it, and never really thought twice about it, she said.

Four calendar months and two ledger entries bearing her name – verified by the creator of both documents – would prove the case to be otherwise, however.

With the absence of her 2007 guilty plea to lying to investigators, let’s grant her the benefit of the doubt here for a moment – despite the on-record testimony provided by Graham associates who stated during his trial that he had a stash of EPO at home.

Then, instantaneously Marion Jones was immediately cast into an unknown pit, ladies and gentlemen – a place where accusations were made of her having taken an oxygen-enhancing drug typically used by athletes training for distance-running events.

Her coach, a known cheat caught up in a money laundering scheme for which Marion Jones had participated insofar as having lied to Federal investigators about a check deposited into her account, said he believed it didn’t make any sense that she would take such a drug, and neither did many of you. Riddick even said that he would bet his life on the fact that she hadn’t taken the drug.

His life must have been worth little, as the words of a cheat find no resting place when truth chases falsity with extreme prejudice, power and might.

EPO discussion – whether fairly or unjustly – had in recent times generally centred around athletes like former Kenyan Bernard Lagat, a 1.500m runner, and Olga Yegorova, a Russian 5.000m runner – two athletes who had been mixed up in this stuff – one of them wrongly accused and later vindicated, the other exonerated by having had no blood test taken as a back-up. It did not involve sprinters until American Kelli White, a California native, mentioned a thing or two about taking the drug in another major scandal involving Marion Jones’s own name and reputation.

Memory – especially selective as it may be – sometimes is fleeting at the most inopportune times, so let’s again provide Marion Jones the complete and sole benefit of our doubt that she had not been exposed to knowledge of what EPO was as a drug – this, again, in the absence of her confession of drugs use under Trevor Graham during a period which began four years earlier. One is not suggesting that Marion Jones, who has once graced the inside of Vogue magazine, had spent her leisure time reading medical journals on the internet. Do you? I certainly don’t.

Let’s leave it at this: Marion Jones said she’d never heard of EPO. And she was shocked!

Before she said she learned of EPO by going on to the internet and doing some research as she stated, she’s said to have received an early morning trans-Atlantic call in Zürich, Switzerland telling her that she had failed an “A”-sample drug test taken at the United States outdoor track and field championships, and then is stated to have immediately phoned her attorney. She was to have cried. She was thought to have been speechless…disturbed. She was shocked. Her attorney said that he told her to return home immediately. One can imagine he cared for his client and her best interests.

Marion Jones did return home immediately, and everyone lost track of her – including her coach, who, upon betting his life on his athlete’s innocence, remarked that he believed Marion Jones was the victim of sabotage, and the USADA was out to “get” her.

The world was thereby again thrown into a “has she always done it, but has only now been busted?” debate, where friendships were greatly tested due to the deep-rooted level to which one side had so vigorously defended her, the other, so daringly accused her with the absence of fool-proof adverse confirmation.

Fortunately, that step can now be avoided to a certain extent. The only agenda item which remains to be discussed is how long Marion Jones took drugs, and debate will continue for those who have been slow to convict and condemn Marion Jones based on their inability to have separated the gifted teenager from the actions which made her a convicted felon.

However shocked Marion Jones may have described her emotional state as having been, there was nothing more shocking than what lay festering underneath the surface which not one single, solitary fan was aware of: an in-depth web of monetary problems Marion Jones was facing which had spun the truth of the matter of Marion Jones and the Great European Adventure completely off into right field – for those who appreciate the baseball metaphor.

This story unfolded in its next stage with the world waiting two weeks to learn through a statement provided through the media that Marion Jones was shocked to have been connected to drugs taking, which was immediately followed by a rehash of the same generic lines she had provided on every debate concerning her innocence and drugs issues, namely of never having tested positive, having had taken a lie-detector test, and a short statement about wanting to get down to the bottom of things.

One will never get to the bottom of things with Marion Jones, but it takes only a superficial look to comprehend that having never tested positive and having passed polygraph tests were meaningless and useless in the grand scheme of things, because those tests were meant to reveal the presence of drugs in her system and provide evidence in support of strong moral character in her. She demonstrated to the world that she was both a cheat and a liar.

The athletics world and the sports world at large – this was an international story – would wait nine more months following the leaked EPO test to learn that there was a deeper secret brewing behind Marion Jones’s doors which suspiciously fell into place at precisely the same time as her diversion from Weltklasse.

Then Marion Jones would drop a bomb on world news in October 2007.

Let’s take a closer look at shock value, and certain items over which I believe you may consider it worth being shocked.

Few events in life have been truly shocking, but, at 31-years-old, perhaps Marion Jones was too young to know that the German warfare known as Blitzkrieg came as a shock. She is certainly of age to know that the Japanese kamikaze offensive on Pearl Harbor came as a shock. Certain films, theatrical plays and recorded songs have been shockingly awful. Other pieces of work never pass the critique sniff test. Folks who pay hard-earned money to watch these, despite warnings, do so at their own peril.

Nevertheless, Marion Jones demonstrated a flare for theatrics, because she, being a creature of habit, simply had no choice: she couldn’t run, she couldn’t hide, and she couldn’t make the imminent legal actions stop – on either end, personal and financial, because she had taken one step over the foul line – this, despite having been given legal reprieve from having done so, but opting not to take it.

The only imaginable free word association I could conceivably connect between Marion Jones and the word shock, is that I was shocked, personally, that so many fans had slaved at 40-hour/week jobs, had seen the heavy rain of toxic smoke surrounding Marion Jones, and continued supporting her in their free time, nevertheless. I was tempted to not describe those fans actions with the adverb shocking, but get down to the bare bones of this meaning, and call the actions what they really are: dumb. However, insofar as I don’t know that potential audience – with any number of them having the potential to make up part of this jury, I decided, therefore, to refrain from such comments, and keep such things to myself.

Would it be prudent to describe for Marion Jones the word shocked as being as such: a parent who takes a quick look through their rear-view mirror, observes their baby’s car seat fly off the roof of the car, scrape along the freeway at high speed, and, by some supernatural intervention – a stroke of luck, if you are inclined to believe it as being such – just miss being smashed and run over by a heavy, unmovable object? Would shocked be the correct word to describe the state of the driver who believed the baby to be a doll, only to see it move once the commotion had concluded?

One point of notation to make of Marion Jones – a sense which you’ll notice you will come to understand and not consider “shocking” as you keep your head above the sand level – is that Marion Jones’s athletics life had been consumed with having the right bodyguards and the right technology in place at the right times, and holding a steadfast watch and guard over her apparently impenetrable personal fortress, including that containing her deepest secrets.

Marion Jones should have been neither shocked nor surprised by an intruder hiding itself as a failed drugs test, as one finally tires after spending time on the observation deck with spy glasses looking out for unannounced, unwanted visitors for the past several years. One slip-up in the blocks left her too far behind to finish ahead, and opened the door for more than she had ever bargained for when she stepped to the line one final time as a cheater in June 2006. She put both hands up and raised the red flag in October 2007.

The definitive shock Marion Jones had apparently undergone was not so much the result of the news of her failure of that initial test screening for performance-enhancing drugs usage being leaked to millions of people around the world – that was the downward result of a calculated risk. Nor was it her discovery that fewer were shocked the event unfolded.

Marion Jones’s shock would unfold and be delivered in the form of having to provide a deposition to authorities less than a year later which would riddle holes in her leaky story – pun intended. That finding process would force an acknowledgment of truth which tied an entirely different story to events which occurred in August 2006.

Some people who were shocked by the original slate of events had been involuntarily coerced into believing Marion Jones had always been clean and pure with the burden of proof – or lack of it – having convinced them to continue having faith in that thought process.

Other folks who were oriented to the result, itself, looked straight through the event due to the provisional evidence pointing to the guilt they’d associated with Marion Jones, believing she was a person in a situation where she had likely not been honest; they’d come to a place where they’d believed she had finally been caught with her fist figuratively clamped around a piece of gold, unable to let go – not because she was incapable of doing so, but because she was greedy.

Marion Jones’s confession helps lean the evidence more that direction than the former.

Folks, as you’ve read through newspapers or perused through your favourite sports magazines, you may have observed one shockingly interesting fact about how many athletes were shocked when they were told of either the Marion Jones or Justin Gatlin initial positive test results, including 100m world record-holder Asafa Powell, who said of Gatlin’s positive test: “I was shocked, very shocked”; American 400m record-holder Sanya Richards, who also said of Gatlin: “So it was really a shock for me and I really hate that it has happened to him”; American sprinter Moushami Robinson, who said of Marion Jones’s positive test: “I’m shocked”; and European sprint sensation, Belgian Kim Gavaert, who stated, “I am a bit shocked and very disappointed”, about Marion Jones. There were a host of other athletes who expressed surprise at the revelations as well.

Richards, consequently, believes that drugs-takers should be banned for life.

This Swiss desertion provided one shocking fact that Marion Jones’s trainer, Steve Riddick – upon revelation and disclosure that his star pupil, Marion Jones, had made an immediate departure from Zürich – had no apparent idea of why Marion Jones had flown home at less than a moment’s notice. Or so we were led to believe.

From what I gather it is some personal family matters. I'm not sure if her mother is ill. I know her son is OK. Charlie [Wells, Jones' manager] says it is a personal family matter," Riddick said. Me, I'm a two-year-old coach with her so I don't go too far into detail.[1]

This series of events was led some to presume that Riddick, sitting on the other side of the watch tower, had fallen asleep at his post. Marion Jones later submitted a brief statement through her attorneys which stated that they were the only authorised persons to speak on her behalf.

It was later revealed through a newspaper source – as everything, figuratively speaking, is with the Marion Jones camp – that her attorney, Rich Nichols, had received an international call from Zürich – Marion Jones was on the other side of the line – and he, himself told her to return home at the first instance. You’re led to believe that there were supposedly no calls between Marion Jones and her coach, there wasn’t a note left for him at the reception desk, and there were no details of any kind left for him to provide an entire world waiting for news of her abrupt departure, hence his statement as printed above, and her response.

Marion Jones would have the world believe that she supposedly waited in silence, disturbed and spooked that she, of all people, could have been wrongfully associated with performance-enhancing drugs usage – with EPO being the culprit, nonetheless. She is said to have waited three days, and then rose from her athletics deathbed to mutter an utterance – through her legal counsel – that she was shocked, so much so, apparently, that she was forced into hiding with family and friends – the impact on them, she’d later state, being as significant to them as it would be on herself.

Yet it was these same family and friends who would be even more traumatised by evidence she staked claim to the following year, namely that she was, indeed a drug user at some point in her career, though not by free choice.

Little did one realise that there was a further-reaching impact on her mother than we could ever come to understand, and it had nothing to do with an alarm bell drumming following a test result. From what Riddick gathered, it very well could have been personal family matters to a degree which I don’t believe he thought to really define as such. I’ll touch more on that in a few paragraphs below.

One would imagine that Marion Jones could have conjured up something with greater excuse-substance than simply being shocked, unless she, through the chapters of her life, had reached into the cookie jar one too many times and found it shocking and to her dismay that the sum of her lies was a handful of crumbs.

Some fans thought she had finally been strapped to using performance-enhancing drugs. However, upon further reflection upon that, one is led to believe that Marion Jones likely got conned on the con job, because her performance – at least in the declaration department – was not an enhanced one, rather an impaired one. She had been paralysed by staring out at the world instead of taking care of business in her own citadel, where the walls crumbled before her eyes as she purchased more buggies and carriages.

The heretofore golden girl is running – no, make that crawling – on empty verbal fumes these days; she waited in excess of 10 months to utter a word on her absence from the sport following her having used all her energy to deny rumours and accusations – some of them very personal, direct and wild, and seem to get away with it by the slimmest of foul-line margins in some circles of public influence. She’d been misguided, undecided, tired, and hadn’t known what more she could do to fight allegations, lies, lies and more lies – especially her own.

Then she caved in and spilled portions of truth on the floor in an effort to show how wrongfully she had been during a small course of her nine-year professional career.

Those fumes were low on substance matter as she defended herself in a structured interview on a news television programme in America following her “B”-sample result negating the “A”-sample test findings – a dialogue conducted where she wore a white top, stuttered, hinted at possible retirement and employed facial expressions which were not in coordination with her words. Draw your own conclusions. Not only had the vocal, media-friendly person abandoned her protocol of holding press conferences to make her declarations universal, she bundled her exonerating test result with any – and all – previous inquiries on her drugs usage to state that this test “proves” that she had never taken drugs, and didn’t take a drug.

What Marion Jones’s statement “proves” is that one simply must not take her word for being truthful – in whole, or in part. The “B”-sample was stated to have proven she had never taken a drug, yet Marion Jones stated a year later, on her own behalf, that she had taken drugs. The “B”-sample revelation was also meant prima facia to demonstrate that she hadn’t taken drugs in 2006, yet evidence to the contrary demonstrate that scientific processes revealed spores of EPO in her system to a degree consistent with drugs usage.

For those who paid a heavy price purchasing that hollow air, may I recommend that you look in the mirror and see if the person staring blankly back at you lives on this planet. There is not a test on the face of the earth which could categorically and unequivocally separate Marion Jones from any and all past suspicions and brushes with mortality – so much so that T.J. Quinn of the New York Daily News wrote that it was indisputably wrong to assert that Marion Jones was freed from past suspicions.

Wrong, wrong, wrong! It proves nothing of the sort. It proves that scientists were not able to look at the reading of her “B” sample and confirm that it met the threshold for a positive. That's it. Beating a traffic ticket on a technicality doesn't mean you've never sped, it means you don't have to pay the fine.[2]

Listen closely to what Marion Jones stated, and realise one important thing: there is such a comprehensive anti-doping test available to cover an athlete’s entire past history in one short sitting – and a 75-day-old back-up one at that!

Where was this test in October 2007 when she decided it was time to play nice girl and confess to wrongdoing? Certainly no information contained by Graham’s attorneys could bring Marion Jones down as a cheat, because she had taken a test which demonstrated that it was impossible to have done so at any time in her career, so help her God – the same one of whom she would later ask for a load of forgiveness.

You, like I, may have heard some big ones in your time, but apparently it would have been high time for us all to have returned to school before continuing any further in this court of public opinion trial against Marion Jones had she not confessed. When we return to university for a history lesson, we’ll learn the following from Sir Winston Churchill – a very applicable quote to Marion Jones’s fib: “We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out.”

Marion Jones let a few words slip out to Federal authorities despite their stated goal of not punishing her for actions performed as long as she came clean. The word “clean” and Marion Jones are incapable of being synonymous with one another, and are conversely arch-rivals with one another.

Marion Jones appears to be headed to a slavery of sorts which begins behind bars and continues at the mercy of a probation officer to whom she will need to check in with on a monthly basis either in person or by having to dial a pay-number to leave her whereabouts.

[1] ESPN.com, “Sources: Sprinter Jones tested positive for EPO”, 2006-08-19

[2] The Sun Herald, “Tests don’t wash away dirt in Marion Jones case”, 2006-09-13

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