Story by Eric.
(This is the 19th 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.)
Marion Jones was a person of good repute, she stated, and had always maintained that she was for a drug-free sport. Because she was a decorated Olympic athlete, the public was never to make any connections or inferences between her “mistakes” with her ex-husband or the father of her child.
Marion Jones’s having acknowledged her having been a decorated Olympic athlete by method of fraud altered that, however, and changed her from being a person of good repute to one of sullen reputation and bad character. Her fevering pitches of being for a drug-free sport were meant for her competitors, not Marion Jones, herself.
If you, having fought for your rightful existence in a sport which pays handsomely for good marks and championship titles, amassed a certain amount of wealth and became prosperous to the point that you could purchase items at will and support others without regard to repayment, and you became accustomed to this lifestyle – which put you in a prestigious neighbourhood with one of the world’s most-recognised persons, one day became so poor that you lost all of your life’s treasures in one fell swoop, would you not also feel defeated and heavily burdened by that occurrence?
Would you, knowing that your home was being taken from you – and you had no legal recourse by which to prohibit the action, not feel burdened with a weight of shock and tremendous pressure that you’d want to hide and wait for a Plan-“B”? Would you not feel severely angry inside for having to uproot your mother from a house you purchased, because you, apparently having no other monetary means, had to pay the bills?
I’m not suggesting that Marion Jones should feel more shock and awe over one event instead of another, and I am not asking you to play psychologist here, either. I simply ask which story you are able to better relate to in terms of putting yourself in either of the situations and imagining which would cause you the greater emotional pain.
Would you agree that Marion Jones had financial difficulty prior to the “A”-sample release date? Her legal history – foreclosure, more specifically – would be a well-documented evidence of what condition, financially, she was in prior to that “A”-sample date of revelation, would it not?
A glimmer of hope for Marion Jones (and Montgomery) was to have been a coaching change from Francis to Dan Pfaff – a move which seemed could benefit both her and Montgomery, and one which appeared to be good guidance for Marion Jones whose ability to run fast could not compensate for her inability to jump. Pfaff had guided 33 Olympic athletes and 29 NCAA individual national champions at The University of Texas, Texas El Paso, Louisiana State University and the University of Florida in 30 years of coaching.
What significance does Pfaff play in this? Timing, in this sport is everything, and Pfaff had legal issues with Marion Jones in 2006 – the same year as her EPO test, and the same year as her foreclosures.
Those taking a harder look into the glass box Marion Jones was living in were more sceptical of the arrangement, believing Marion Jones to have had merely used Pfaff as an image-enhancer following her time with Graham and brush with Francis.
They both signed five-year contracts for $500.000 each – a $1.000.000 investment in their future developments, and Pfaff left the University of Texas in July 2003 to immediately begin training Montgomery, with Marion Jones to be taken under his wings in Raleigh in September 2003.
Pfaff had been viewed as a great technician – a key element in a trainer and advisor which drew Marion Jones to both Trevor Graham and to Charlie Francis.
“My forte over the years has been taking older athletes who come with a suitcase load of injuries, and maybe some confidence issues, and resurrect them,” Pfaff said.
However, as had been the case with every single, solitary man in Marion Jones’s athletics life, she had a falling-out, the relationship with Pfaff soured in the end of 2003, and the ensuing result was a lawsuit Marion Jones initiated against Pfaff.
Dan Pfaff – the coach of 30 previous Olympians – had been called ineffective, insofar as his coaching “adversely affected” her performances and livelihood due to a lack of training regime, she stated. Marion Jones wanted no part of his sprinting education, and, after her Athens Olympic Games qualifying in the long jump, she fired him, citing breach of contract whereby Pfaff is stated to have disclosed to Nike, Marion Jones’s chief sponsor, confidential information meant to undermine the contract. Breach of contract inherently implies that Marion Jones suffered economic loss as a result of Pfaff’s actions, and was seeking damages as a result of that breach.
Pfaff countered the Marion Jones claim of “adversely affect[ing]” him by stating that they frustrated his efforts by refusing to submit to blood work and other health tests – comments which garnered no wrath from the Marion Jones camp. Montgomery, who also stated nothing publicly about Pfaff’s claims, eventually went down with the initial BALCO investigations – held during the time he was under Pfaff’s guidance. His on-going counter suit seeks to claim $240.000 in unpaid training fees and legal expenses owed him by Marion Jones, who is completely broke, she claims.
Pfaff's attorney, Edmund “Skip” Davis, said: “Their technicality is just as frivolous as their original claim that Dan's coaching was inadequate. She ought to just come around and do the right thing -- pay the coach. As far as I'm concerned, Marion's word is no good.”
As far as others were concerned along the path of her career – and having now gained in support from others – her word is no good anywhere at all.
What has taken me pages on end to express in both subtle and very direct, conclusive ways, Pfaff’s attorney came right out, point-blank – with no warning: Marion Jones is not to be trusted.
Marion Jones ensured she should never be trusted when she confessed to having been a cheat, though the evidences in this series will have helped you convict her long before her deliverance of that pre-meditated speech.
The Pfaff lawsuit, which his attorneys filed against Marion Jones (MLJ & Associates Inc. c/o Marion Jones) on 2006-March-24 (as case No. DC-06-02956, Dallas 14th District Court), opened the contents of Marion Jones’s personal wallet to the public, as her financial state of affairs were described by Marion Jones in a 168-page deposition she filed in Dallas against Pfaff. Judicial Officer Mary Murphy presided over the lawsuit and awarded the first judgment in Pfaff’s favour was on 2006-July-18 (Volume/Book 366A, Page 227, 2 pages). Marion Jones’s attorneys appealed the $240.000 awarded to Pfaff for contractual training fees and legal expenses.
The Los Angeles Times printed a compelling story hinting at the nature of the countersuit and disclosed that Marion Jones was near “broke”.
“You made some good money. Where did that money go?” asked a skeptical Pfaff attorney, Eric Little.
“Who knows? I wish I knew. Bills, attorney bills, a lot of different things to maintain the lifestyle,” Jones said.
A review of the Wake County Property Tax Billing/Collections records makes it easier for one to see how some of the “things to maintain the lifestyle” monies were spent:
• 2006 AUDI 4S, 52.940:- , Bill Date: 2006.08.14
• 2004 PORS CA, 64.414:- , Bill Date: 2003.12.08
• 1964 CHEV IM, 4.780:- , Bill Date: 2003.09.15
• 2001 JEEP W/T, 15.860:- , Bill Date: 2002.12.18
• 2002 PORS, 58.090: - , Bill Date: 2002.12.18
• 2000 GMC J/E, 18.180:- , Bill Date: 2002.09.16
• 2000 LNDR RRV, 48.940:- , Bill Date: 2001.12.10
• 2000 GMC J/E, 20.950:- , Bill Date: 2001.09.17
• 2000 LNDR RRV, 40.770:- , Bill Date: 2000.12.11
• 2000 GMC J/E, 28.300:- , Bill Date: 2000.09.11
• 1998 JEEP W/T, 21.180:- , Bill Date: 1998.12.14
The course of Marion Jones’s legal concerns – as they had pertained to discovery findings with respect to performance-enhancing drugs, and defence of statements against eye-witness accounts that she has used drugs – had involved a number of attorneys under her hire. Those attorneys have also cost money and, ultimately, have completed the scope and nature of their work vigorously as required by the law.
Marion Jones’s monetary issues are truly believed to have plunged her into debt in 2003, when, following her home purchase – with her as the sole borrower, the BALCO investigation took full course. She hired her attorneys to aid her with grand jury testimony (2003-October), and required their assistance with the Conte lawsuit and ensuing USADA meetings.
Unfortunately, Marion Jones’s exploits were revealed at a time when common people, by way of the media, are gaining better insight into how those once in the limelight have gone about living their lives.
Former 110m high hurdle world-record holder Colin Jackson had money to throw back at life – it’s not out of the ordinary for track and field athletes who snap up considerable prize money for their successes to make grand purchases and investments.
Jackson stated in an interview with ThisisMoney.co.uk stated that his biggest investment was his home – a project which has a current turn-around of £628.000. He also had a preponderance to purchase watches, claiming to own more than 70 of them, with the most expensive one a £25.000 indulgence splurge.
How are you saving for your retirement? “I have numerous pensions plus property. As well as my own house, I have bought my parents a property in Cardiff, which is actually bigger than mine. I'm definitely not strapped for cash.”
Carolina Klüft, Stefan Holm, Christian Olsson and Susanna Kallur – four of Sweden’s biggest-name stars – have also been featured in newspapers with reports on their investments and savings plans for the future.
It appears as though for Marion Jones, she never did mind the company she kept (or didn’t).
In your personal assessments as jury members with public opinion – to a reasonable degree of certainty – could foreclosure on a home after having spent a lot of your expenditures on toys cause elevated stress in a person irrespective of other obligations or stress factors already upon a person?
Finally, could actions of a well-documented, nine-month period of litigation whereby house and home would be confiscated and sold off to the highest bidder – including having to break news to your own kin that you would be forced to uproot them from the comfort of their own home which you gave them – be significant cause for stress, and, more specifically, be its own form of stress outright?
Let’s not even begin to state the obvious (then) impending trial her former coach, Trevor Graham, would be facing.
Would it be incorrect to conclude that in all probability, the stress caused from losing her valuables – those which she had purchased from earnings from competitions, appearances and endorsements – items which created a certain lifestyle, and which, consequently were continued to be purchased to “maintain the lifestyle” – had, at the least, an equal strength of burden when measured against losses which could have been related to being falsely accused for an action for which one had reasonably and consistently been suspected of being involved with for a number of years, not months?
It is plausible to conclude that two equal forces were acting in Marion Jones’s life when she determined it was time to prematurely conclude her season and plan for the damage control. The first part was composed of a “personal reason” for shutting her life down following her last race, and the second part a purported combination within itself of “shock” at a failed drugs test and pre-mature revelation in the absence of due process.
Nonetheless, when weighing the validity of Marion Jones’s statement made to the public through her attorney and via the media – a declaration which stated in essence that having been falsely accused and unjustly painted as a doping violator before the “B”-sample analysis was concluded – or even started – had caused a tremendous burden in Marion Jones’s life, and had called into question her personal drive to continue in the sport, we are not told that there is an equally pressing reason Marion Jones felt tired of fighting and unfit to continue.
Marion Jones, who was facing considerable financial difficulty, made certain economic decisions prior to her drugs test at the American outdoor championships to further engulf herself despite proceedings which were simultaneously taking place to cause the second of these scenarios to play out, namely foreclosure and the supposed selling of a home to “pay the bills,” as she stated.