Story by Eric.
(This is the 14th part of a long series titled, "Why You Shouldn't Believe Marion Jones". This series depicts the life and times of a (former) woman sprinter whose lies and cover-ups about doping in sport continue even through this day.)
Whoever did voluntarily leak the positive results exercised a great deal of care in this case to plan the greatest shock value for Marion Jones – one which would actually make the remaining sections of her story more believable. They were also very particular and methodical enough to minimise any risk of exposure to themselves in so leaking that information. There simply are no substantial finger-pointing opportunities available at either USADA or USATF which one could simply pin on someone and force a confession of their crimes.
Marion Jones is such a person known to have crafted red herrings, lied about previous statements, created leaked information and has been forced to confess for those decoys and lies she made.
Strictly eliminating the previous two suspects based on motive, we’re left considering Marion Jones – or someone in her camp – based on means, opportunity and motive.
Marion Jones and her entourage had the means, as the results were made available to them as per anti-drug testing protocol. They had the opportunity to do so when the results were confirmed as being positive. That leaves one considering strongly the realm of motive recalling that Marion Jones has had a history of abusing trust, power and truth – and also a future which would have her leak other “For Your Eyes Only” confidential information meant for family and “close friends”.
Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, devoted to humanitarian duty, once stated, “Poverty is the mother of crime”.
It is not out of the bounds of reason to consider that an immediate threat of poverty could encourage a person to commit certain kinds of acts he or she may not have committed in the absence of it. Likewise, a person in financial trouble could have had the same rivalled encouragement to leak confidential information about a positive drugs test in order to have those means justify their financial ends.
On the other hand, nonetheless, what would be the justification by a person whose financial independence was directly tied to appearance fees and prize money to not exhaust all legal means possible to locate the source of the leaks and “vigorously pursue” a course of legal action against them – especially when the said athlete was in a financial dispute of her own requiring significant monies to cover a potential loss?
Enter Marion Jones.
Marion Jones, embroiled in a financial controversy, lost a first-round financial judgment against her by her former coach, Dan Pfaff, in the amount of $240.000 on 2006-July-18 – or four days following her 100m season’s best effort of 10,91 seconds in Rome – a time which netted her a runner-up position.
Inadvertently, perhaps, when stating that she had lost income due to her leaked test result, Marion Jones stated she lost what would have covered the costs of Pfaff’s legal fees and lost coaching income he was seeking to recover in the suit at nearly the same time she disclosed the loss of income due to adversity.
Marion Jones was in severe financial difficulty, and at the time facing the most embarrassing time of her private life. She’d run out of options to pay off her home – including selling property and assets to meet some of her financial obligations. However, Marion Jones purchased an Audi two days before foreclosure proceedings were set on her home, and five days after the trustee deed was signed away. The trustee deed was enforced 2007-July-26 (one day before she competed in London, and eight days after her judgment loss to Pfaff), with her creditor the last and highest bidder for the deed at $2.812.573,50.
Gone was Marion Jones’s largest and most luxurious of her toys, or things “to maintain the lifestyle”, as she put it succinctly in a 180-page deposition during the Pfaff case.
Had Marion L. Jones, the credibility-crippled sprinter turned hard-luck gypsy found her livelihood the slightest bit threatened, she, sticking to her previous claims against people, would have made an inquisition into the leaked test, asked to have the status results of that made public and then sued the initiator of that felony against her dignity and right to work; she would have, as she stated, had this be injustice be “a catalyst for better confidentiality samples and just to protect the athletes.”
Would it have been unreasonable to have expected Marion Jones to be more upset over the matter?
Consider the following:
Marion Jones had been documented as having had been more upset over the accusation – or notion – of being a doped athlete than she seemed to be at losing her fortunes following a leaked dope test result.
In this case, however, there were no out-spoken words from her of “vigorously” pursuing any and all legal means necessary to get to the bottom of the leak, which, in actuality, was the sole purpose in which she stated she did not continue to compete – not the actual sample test, itself.
Whether or not a journalist in the Washington Post’s Amy Shipley would give up her source or protect it – as was the case with the San Francisco Chronicle reporters who repudiated attempts made by the court system to give up their source – would it not have made practical sense for Marion Jones to have made an attempt at forcing the issue – even if only to demonstrate that her previous attempts at clearing her name were not done so in vain when it finally counted?
She knew that clearing her name would never come to fruition, and the only association of the word “clear” and “Marion Jones” in the future would be a negative, lasting one.
Perhaps it was, as it seemed, Marion Jones had no financial means to of mounting a legal challenge to this perceived injustice done to her.
In that event, a point of note arises in considering why Marion Jones didn’t robustly seek defamation claims against a large number of journalists around the world and the newspapers which carried the “A”-sample story which was subsequently overturned by the “B”-sample test.
There was probable cause which extended beyond any doubt that punitive damage awards could have been massive in that instance.
Marion Jones first retained her legal counsel to help guide her through the Grand Jury testimony stage which arose from BALCO. She then fought off attempts by USADA to have her barred from the 2004 Athens Olympics. Her most powerful case was for the defamation lawsuit she filed against Conte, which was followed by her defence of her “A”- and “B”-samples. The final step in this attorney payment schedule has been litigation in the Pfaff breach-of-contract suit which has been extended and gone into appeal. Somewhere along the line she was able to continue collecting frivolous toys which she had every right to do as a person with interests in vehicles – and the prerogative to lose everything all the same.
Insofar as it can be deduced that Marion Jones was running on empty in financial matters in the build-up year to the Athens Olympics, the most prevalent opportunity she had available to her to turn her fortunes around would have been to have taken the Conte trial through to its conclusion in court, not in a settlement. Marion Jones had every opportunity to pin the tail on Conte and take him for all he was worth if indeed he was guilty of defaming and slandering her.
As it turns out, he wasn’t.
Had her financial health taken a hit following her divorce, grew imminently worse through the BALCO stages and hit its peak with the clash USADA, her attorneys could have advanced certain court costs and the expense of litigation in the Conte trial with repayment from Marion Jones contingent on the outcome of the matter.
Guess what? They didn’t.
As a matter of fact, they could have done so with the outcome of any number of matters, with the leaked test result the greatest and most personal of those to hit Marion Jones’s pocketbook in relationship to her stated losses. There was no lawsuit filed, and one is left to make a presumptive statement that Marion Jones didn’t even win pennies more than the cost of initiating her lawsuit, and paid her attorneys out-of-pocket for her incurred expenses, thus reducing significantly any sum of money she could have held as savings.
Inasmuch as Marion Jones’s attorney team has been retained by her on more than one occasion, and gave the impression that it had won more than it had lost with respect to keeping Marion Jones in the sport and on the 2004 Olympic team whilst fending off allegations, it would seem reasonable that they would have pursued this to the fullest in an effort to clear their client of any further “character assassination” as they’d previously called accusations made against their client.
Would they not have made a concerted effort as biased, subjective legal specialists to independently pursue matters concerning the leak to ensure such events could not be repeatable, and ensure the act was deemed criminal?
It would have been reasonable for them to have pursued those avenues had their client indeed been uncontaminated in the matter. They told her on previous occasion during the BALCO trial to tell the truth, but she failed to heed their advice to her own detriment. She was also contaminated in the “A”-sample round and had no recourse other than to sprinkle water over the huge fire she created.
Would it be fair to say that continued, excruciatingly painful episodes of public humiliation would ruin a person’s enjoyment of life, especially if they were innocent of the charges for which they faced contempt and scorn? Marion Jones would go on to face even more painful episodes which included world-wide humiliation – acts which ruined her further enjoyment of the sport as a participant, and removed her from certain historical sections of it as well, because she was not innocent of drugs taking in the past.
Inasmuch as there was purported relief available to Marion Jones by means of a lawsuit filed against Conte when her name was first bandied about in a manner which conservative fans likely deemed to have been done viciously and without regard to truth, was there no conservative option available to Marion Jones following the leaked test which would have given her at least financial relief with respect to her hidden legal challenges?
Did her legal counsel, who had a financial incentive to work the case, inform Marion Jones of those options, if they, in fact, did exist? Had they pursued – and won – a lawsuit against the “informer”, would it not have increased their bottom line? Would it not have permitted them to possibly take on more cases as a result of the nature and outcome of such a victory against “injustice”? Would it not have put one of the two other suspects in this case out of business and at a complete loss of credibility?
USADA was one of those suspects, and they would have immediately suffered severe and heavy blows to their credibility and been justly denied the opportunity to further demonstrate that they practiced fairness and diligence in their discovery of the truth had they been revealed to have been the source of that leaked information to the media on Marion Jones’s private and confidential test results.
They had, over a period of three years, accumulated evidences against Marion Jones, but took a long, deliberate, systematic approach to that assimilation to present a solid case – or to close out the process due to a lack of complete evidence. Their approach was so scrupulous and meticulous that Marion Jones had associated USADA with being a “kangaroo court” whilst they investigated the extent of her involvement with BALCO.
It requires no great stretch of the imagination to understand that, with all likelihood, Marion Jones would have sought financial vengeance against USADA – a long-standing thorn in her side – and “vigorously” pursued all possible means of legal recourse to break their bank and pay for their sins against her if they were the source of the leaked test, so to speak.
USADA didn’t leak the test results, however, and there was simply no case against them for which her counsel could file a claim – though we were left guessing on that one until Marion Jones confessed of being a cheat. Her attorneys are at liberty to preserve Marion Jones’s secrets – statements made in confidence – at every peril to themselves unless by not doing so, Marion Jones could cause herself or another person great bodily harm.
And of USATF, who Marion Jones’s counsel claimed could have leaked the test result? That mention was simply nothing but more greyish smouldering smoke from a dying fire in Marion Jones’s corner at that time. Neither you nor I heard one peep from her counsel on a discovery course of action to ascertain any remote possibility USATF could have been involved in the leak.
Marion Jones, possessing no scapegoat in USADA, and having only had a broken arrow shot verbally at USATF – which her attorneys stated could have been culpable in the disclosure of privileged information, simply turned a corner to drop a stink bomb on the world – something which became more indicative of her over the past few seasons, instead of laying a foundation to pursuit of a perpetrator – any one whatsoever.
She left a collective body of fans in you and myself a sound-bite with the world’s most incredulous, outlandish statement and followed that up by granting a select interview with The New York Times wherein the nine-time Olympic and/or World Championships gold medallist stated she had begun contemplating calling it quits on her career and spending time with her son, whilst those same defenders of truth, her legal counsel, spoke out openly about the consequences of leaking information before the “B”-sample analysis was performed.
Bleep. Then Marion Jones dived off the radar.
Marion Jones was so far removed from the headlines in the winter following her drugs fiasco that when she married Obadele Thompson, the former Olympian from Barbados, everything was kept at an absolute hush-hush level of silence.
Better yet, were you or I required to really care with whom she’d decide to go forward into an uncertain future and away from a disastrous past – one which, under the present circumstance provided through her confession, now calls into question every statement, word, deed and action she has made as a person, as an athlete and also as a competitor to others, so long that she was gone?
The only ones I could consider who would keep their noses in her business would be celebrity wedding watchers or people who’d spin the wedding as an act of deception to keep Marion Jones, now mother of two children, out of prison.