This is the 44th submission in a long series about Marion Jones, a former elite sprinter who won (stole) honour and earned (stole) endorsements, fame and fortune by method of fraud. This story is being told in its entirety, because Marion Jones is unable to do it herself.
This section is titled, "'Bad company', said the thief, as he went to the gallows between the hangman and the monk."
One need not be reminded that Marion Jones had demonstrated the ability to work on a skill or technique until she had mastered it. Mastering the skill of self-deception and delusion appears to have not eluded her aptitudes, though not many bought her show of remorse at having been caught as a cheat – including Michael Johnson.
What Marion Jones failed to realise was that these relationships sent mixed messages about the “Marion Jones Foundation” – an organisation Marion Jones established to encourage and aid children and teens to pursue education, and achieve success in their personal developments through sports, fitness, and nutrition. This programme also had partnered with the YWCA, YMCA and Big Brothers/Big Sisters in the
What she also failed to acknowledge was that she would prove to be a farce to those same children and teen who had nothing else than sport to help them develop into better people, and perhaps take a very long time to ever accepting an adult as a role model again.
Marion Jones’s attorneys, in the heretofore mentioned sentencing memorandum, made the following claims about Marion Jones’s commitments to children:
“She is also the kind of person who gives back not only to family and friends but who has given to communities all over the world. Among other efforts, she formed the Marion Jones Foundation in
What Marion Jones did was dash the hopes and dreams of youth around the globe – hope that hard work alone could result in running as she did; and dreams of being an Olympic champion, just like Marion Jones.
Marion Jones had never acknowledged what these “major scandals” had done to her reputation – one which sunk further and more rapidly into such an abyss, that Michael Johnson, the world record-holder in the 200m, 400m and 4x400m, had once asked Marion Jones to leave the sport...for good.
Johnson also later acknowledged his great disgust for Marion Jones’s actions, for in so having cheated, she tainted his accomplishments as well insofar as she caused great suspicion to come over other Olympic and world champions – or athletes like Johnson, who set world records.
“I know that a small group of people doubted I could do what I did without taking drugs and that's not because of any allegations or investigations, but because my performances were that good. I'm actually proud of that.
“The fact that I was tested more than 100 times during my career and never tested positive should support the fact that I achieved my success clean. But I honestly don't know if I could blame someone at this point for questioning whether I, or any athlete who has accomplished greatness, was in fact clean.
“I have never felt the need to defend myself in the past when our sport has come under attack and people have said that the majority of athletes are doping.
This is the same man who said in
“If my leaving the sport is leaving it in
Marion Jones showed to have incapable hands when it came to keeping the sport in a good light, however.
She didn’t distance herself from C.J. Hunter when he had been found to have committed four doping offences. She did not detach herself from Charlie Francis when his own reputation was brought before her despite her contention that she had no previous knowledge of his infamous past which continued to interlock with that present time. Marion Jones did not remove herself from an association with Tim Montgomery when he was discovered to have used performance-enhancing drugs.
Conte tied Marion Jones in to two of the three – the third being an association mentioned by way of
For Marion Jones and her defence attorneys, anyone who looks like a liar, smells like a liar and acts like a liar is, undoubtedly a “liar”.
What about Marion Jones in this instance? Shall she be partially a liar with respect to her admitted time of using performance-enhancing drugs, or will she be considered a complete liar with respect to her performances against the grain of reason?
When it came to that same company Marion Jones kept which they had attempted to establish as false-bearers of truth and people of ill repute, Marion Jones’s associations with them shall not now – nor ever – whilst she maintained good standing with them have had no bearing whatsoever on her character. Yes, so said her legal team to you and to me in many an instance in this drawn-out mess.
Marion Jones inferred that her interactions with suspect people should not have been used against her as a test of integrity or trustworthiness, yet Marion Jones, herself, was a doped athlete who was cheating at the highest levels during a time when these “suspect” people were also being discovered and labelled as such. Marion Jones’s prison associations will tell the Corrections Officers much about her character as well.
Marion Jones had the burden of persuading and demonstrating beyond a reasonable doubt that she had had no unlawful dealings with people who had accused her of cheating and, who, themselves, had cheated either a sporting or lawful entity.
Had Marion Jones ever provided a preponderance of clear and convincing evidence to the contrary?
Please feel free to fill in the blank on that one.
USADA was not convinced of those admissions and denials, and, in a court of law, the issue would have had to be decided in their favour as not having had the burden of persuasion or having to produce the greater weight of credible evidence in the matter.
Marion Jones has a personal liberty to mutually associate with whomever she sees fit, for whatever reason she sees fit.
This statement would have come under heavy fire in a cross-examination by a prosecuting attorney. Moreover, inasmuch as Marion Jones had attempted to discredit Conte and Hunter as credible witnesses, she would have exposed herself to a very large gulf to overcome in the legal process as stated in the United States Federal Rules of Evidence (Article IV), Rule 404(a):
1. Character of accused.
Evidence of a pertinent trait of character offered by an accused, or by the prosecution to rebut the same, or if evidence of a trait of character of the alleged victim of the crime is offered by an accused and admitted under Rule 404(a)(2), evidence of the same trait of character of the accused offered by the prosecution;
2. Character of alleged victim.
Evidence of a pertinent trait of character of the alleged victim of the crime offered by an accused, or by the prosecution to rebut the same, or evidence of a character trait of peacefulness of the alleged victim offered by the prosecution in a homicide case to rebut evidence that the alleged victim was the first aggressor;
3. Character of witness.
Marion Jones’s legal counsel had stated that one should not have believed the witness of Conte and Hunter, and had attempted to publicly discredit their testimony. Had they attempted to do so in court – to have these two men testify against Marion Jones – they would have opened Marion Jones’s own reputation and potential flaws and lapses in judgment – items which can – and would be – used to demonstrate what constituted Marion Jones’s own character.
Would questions related to her character have been able to withstand the interrogation?
U.S. Federal Rules of Evidence (Article IV), Rule 405, Methods of Providing Character, would have solidified the opportunity afforded to either Conte or Hunter to provide under oath specific examples – including dates, times, occurrences and witnesses to these events – acceptable examples whereby Marion Jones’s character should come under question. Excerpted from that rule is the context in which it could have been applied:
a. Reputation or opinion.
In all cases in which evidence of character or a trait of character of a person is admissible, proof may be made by testimony as to reputation or by testimony in the form of an opinion. On cross-examination, inquiry is allowable into relevant specific instances of conduct.
b. Specific instances of conduct.
In cases in which character or a trait of character of a person is an essential element of a charge, claim, or defense, proof may also be made of specific instances of that person's conduct.
Conduct unbecoming has caused Marion Jones to crash out fan support. However, inasmuch as she was not concerned with what others think of her until she needed that support in her corner following her admission of guilt in having taken performance-enhancing drugs – neither with the power of having that backing in her corner – she had alienated the very people who had stuck by her during her most challenging of times and had stood up for her character – blaming circumstances and the people around her and ably backing her with all their might.
Some of those people were athletes who competed with – and against – her.
Marion Jones had put her family through unnecessary tough times by her own doing, if one is to take what Marion Jones stated following her “B”-sample exoneration at face-value.
If Marion Jones – who does not believe in guilt by association despite the fact that her performances had all taken considerable drops since those associations were brought into question, further fuelling the perception of that guilt – was deeply concerned over how her family was impacted by what was written and stated about her, she had done little-to-nothing with the ample opportunity over the course of her adult athletics life to make conscious choices which would not bring turmoil on either herself or her family.
“People don’t realize how other people are affected. My brother calls me at crying when the B sample came back negative. So it’s not just about me, it’s about all the people who have been there for me. It’s tough either way. This has been such a major part of you.
“It’s a life decision.”
Marion Jones, in attempting to demonstrate that the emotional toll taken on her and her supporters has been incredibly difficult, does not state what her family endured when the “A”-sample test was prematurely announced and the media world instantaneously descended upon her.
If Marion Jones was going for broke with the shock value method, and had hoped to elicit sentiments of sadness and understanding from anyone who would stop and listen, she would have much better succeeded in stating the emotional toll of having been robbed of credibility in the absence of the “B”-test had on her, and her family. Instead, she placed the personal touch on her brother’s late night tears which she stated he shed after learning of her “B”-sample results.
Marion Jones once again positioned herself as a victim of someone else’s mistakes – a fact which continued well past this incident up to – and including – her admission of having been lied to by Graham.
Fans which had paid a willing sum of money to watch Marion Jones compete had included doctors, attorneys, teachers and more – folks who spent their precious time away from the track discussing Marion Jones on message boards and reading and learning information to better understand her challenges. These supporting hangers-on had remained when the lights leading back to safety were turned off – that is to say, they’d remained behind on the Titanic – behind passage ways which have been bolted shut – hoping Marion Jones could steer her way clear of the catastrophic events likely headed her way.
As the story was to demonstrate, sadly, those events awaiting the Titanic were to be costly and unbearable.
Others, however, did actually believe that those associations Marion Jones had tailored were troublesome to her, including Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee, who in 2004, questioned Marion Jones about her associations. Rogge staged what Marion Jones considered an inappropriate question in asking about the perceived dangers of what can be considered sleeping with the enemy.
“She is today technically innocent,” Rogge told The Sunday Times of London. “But ultimately she has to ask herself something about the perception that people might have, that people might say, 'Are you sure you are living with the right people?’”
Marion Jones’s attorneys called the move an attempt by Rogge to influence the anti-doping investigation, with Marion Jones, herself, criticising Rogge – stating that his comments were ignorant, especially not knowing the circumstances surrounding her. Marion Jones is cited in The New York Times as stating that her decision making about certain people in the past was “a little suspect”, and that she had parted ways with those people.
Parting ways with those persons under suspicion was not enough to save Marion Jones from the fall of grace she would face, however, and she would ultimately repent for making mistakes in lying to Federal authorities.
 F. Hill Allen, Henry J. DePippo, “Sentencing Memorandum of Marion Jones-Thompson”, 2007-12-28  The Telegraph, “No justice for the victims of the drug cheats”, 2007-10-16  The New York Times, “Relays Reveal The Most About Jones”, 2000-10-01  The New York Times, “Jones Is Testing Her Credibility And Her Speed”, 2004-02-04  Federal Rules of Evidence (Article IV), Rule 404: Character Evidence Not Admissible to Prove Conduct; Exceptions; Other Crimes.  The New York Times, “Jones Tired of Running With Weight of Suspicion”, 2006-09-26  The New York Times, “Jones Criticizes Rogge’s Statement”, 2004-06-08