Why You Shouldn't Believe Marion Jones: Vol. 47

Story by Eric.

This is the 47th 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 is the final of a section is titled, "'Bad company', said the thief, as he went to the gallows between the hangman and the monk."

BALCO testimony, which the US Government requested this week to be made available, links Tim Montgomery to a previous tie with Charlie Francis, with the San Francisco Chronicle reporting that
Montgomery was introduced to Francis at a BALCO meeting to determine the technical ways Ben Johnson was able to establish the world record, and to work on “Project World Record” – prior to his split from Trevor Graham. [1]

Marion Jones stated that her search for a new “technician” could enable her to improve.

I had a wonderful relationship with my former coach Trevor Graham,” Jones said. “Just like anything, sometimes people just grow apart.

Last year, I decided it was time for a change. I searched around the world to try and find a coach who had the technical expertise that I needed, and I found Charlie Francis.

Technically, if you'll ask anybody in the world, he is the expert when it comes to sprinting. So I didn't think anything of the drug situation.

When that happened [the Ben Johnson bust] I was a little girl, but since then I have severed ties, and it had nothing to do with any of my sponsors putting pressure on me. I just felt for the sake of the sport it was time I looked some place else...[2]

Marion Jones and Montgomery received a public scolding from the USA athletics federation, the International Amateur Athletics Federation, and other athletes – including Maurice Greene and Michael Johnson.

Johnson, in his criticism of Jones, went so far as to state Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery should be banned from IAAF Golden League events due to this association with Francis:

These promoters have lived through, and suffered from, the black eye that Francis inflicted on athletics with his role in the Ben Johnson scandal which the sport has still not recovered from 15 years later.

I do not blame them at all. In fact, I commend the promoters for not allowing the sport's ambassadors to bring the person largely responsible for one of athletics' biggest problems back in to a position of prominence.

Jones and Montgomery, to a slightly lesser degree, are the ambassadors of this sport. They bear the responsibility for carrying athletics forward and doing what they can to ensure its future for the young kids who look up to them and dream of being the next great sprinter.[3]

Johnson further stated in his column that Marion Jones and Montgomery both failed in their responsibility as ambassadors, and they made an obvious attempt to ignore it. Johnson further stated he was shocked by Marion Jones’s choice of employing Francis over any other possible coach, but he was not in the least surprised by her continued lack of concern for her own reputation.

Greene, contemplating why a world record-holder would leave his coach, called Montgomery, “stupid”.

I think he made a mistake when he left Trevor, said Greene.

Someone coaches you to a world record and you leave him, you're stupid. A lot of times problems can be talked out.[4]

(A witness upon whom ESPN The Magazine relied states that days following Montgomery’s world record, a telephone conversation between Montgomery and Graham turned into a shouting match, with Graham reportedly yelling, “Then don’t come back.” Those problems could not be talked out. Montgomery didn’t return to Graham’s camp.[5])

Two questions arise at this point concerning Greene’s statement: Did Greene, who is stated to have had a connection to Angel Heredia – one which he publicly denied, stating that he didn’t believe in Heredia’s products, and sometimes simply paid for his teammates to purchase “stuff” with his money – not know that Montgomery was on performance-enhancing drugs, and, thus, debunking the statements Victor Conte made to the contrary, imply that making a move from a “successful” coach was stupid insofar as one doesn’t fix what is already working?

Or, did he, if he knew that a successful mix of drugs and secrecy would lead to even faster times and better results, make his comment out of regard for that particular truth?

Greene trained under a coach, John Smith, who was mentioned by Charlie Francis as having stated that the anabolic steroid, Dianabol, was part of his regimen nearly 20 years ago. Conte stated that Smith asked a lot of questions of the BALCO empire before it fell which gave the appearance that Smith was interested in the performance-enhancing aspect of the business.

Montgomery trained under Riddick, Marion Jones’s current coach, up until 1999, when he departed for Graham’s camp.

Francis’s misdeeds were well-documented before Marion Jones began training with him. Francis had, under oath, admitted to a Canadian government panel investigating the Ben Johnson scandal that he had encouraged steroid use. He also wrote a book, “Speed Trap,” that left no doubt about his intimate professional relationship with pharmaceuticals, facts documented in the San Francisco Chronicle. [6]

As was the case with Trevor Graham, Marion Jones stated she received a significant amount of technical advice to enable her to improve under the short time she was advised by Francis, who was banned for life by Canada’s track and field federation in 1989, but not banned by the IAAF.

Be is as it may, the previous occasion where Marion Jones had a short time with a trainer led to a transformation which to this day proves unlikely.

The Marion Jones/Tim Montgomery association with Francis should not have lead one to direct a guilty verdict on these two athletes, said Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun in an article written in January, 2003:

Charlie Francis didn't go looking for Tim Montgomery and Marion Jones. They came to him. They came to Toronto. They were world record holders who thought they could go faster, who believed that Francis' technical skill -- his ability to break down what a sprinter does, and not his knowledge of performance enhancing drugs -- would push them to another level. The matching of Francis with Montgomery and Jones, who are officially a couple, is being debated all over the track world: The spit, in this case, has hit the fan.

If all they wanted was drugs, the drugs are more accessible in the see-no-evil United States. What they wanted from Francis was technical expertise. [7]

One understands the decision to defend Marion Jones in the absence of the prior Tim Montgomery-Francis-BALCO connection.

However, Marion Jones, herself, stated that she “searched around the world” for a technician and discovered Francis, yet knew absolutely nothing of his past, insofar as she was a little girl when Ben Johnson ran his world record. The self-professed internet-junkie performed a search – or went by word of mouth through recommendation – and was never, ever told of Charlie Francis past.

Given to Marion Jones’s propensity to lie about matters big, no extension is to be made here concerning matters of equal value on the cheating scale.

Marion Jones is cited in a Los Angeles Times article as having stated that she left the controversial coach for the betterment of the sport, and for the good of her career – this two months after Marion Jones won the Jesse Owens Award from USATF. [8]

What Marion Jones didn’t say was that she was a drug-taking athlete who had corrupted the sport and would eventually be forced out of a career when her sins came to light.

Marion Jones claimed to not have know anything about Francis’s past, citing that she was 13-years-old when Ben Johnson raced in Seoul, and she had no knowledge of Francis’ involvement in that infamous case, nor any knowledge of his involvement in steroid proliferation.

However, Tim Montgomery, speaking with media on Thursday, 2003-June-19 – four months after the incident, stated that he had judged Francis’s character, not his past – a direct contradiction to what Marion Jones had stated in neither Montgomery nor her knowing anything about Charlie Francis’s past.

Yet, also completely to the contrary of what Marion Jones stated, Francis said that Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery selected him with his background in mind – not the other way around, as Marion Jones claimed.

Francis stated the following to debunk any claim that Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery were involved in a drugs scheme:

The fact that Tim and Marion sought me out as their consultant, knowing that they would be subjected to increased public scrutiny as a result, speaks volumes for their personal integrity and human decency.

Their actions should put to rest any suggestion that they sought my assistance for anything other than the technical training that I could provide.

To any rational observer, their deliberate choice of me as their consultant should be sufficient evidence that they do not use banned substances, since by their mere association with me they knew that they would be subjected to public scrutiny and unjustified cynicism.[9]

Francis had once stated in his book, “Speed Trap”, that individual improvements are measured in hundredths of a second; athletes, once they have reached their early twenties, he stated, typically improved their performance in small, steady increments, as their experience and strength increased. Quantum leaps, to Francis, had only one explanation: performance-enhancing drugs.

Marion Jones’s extraordinary leapfrog through the all-time lists in her first and second years on the professional circuit must have been the exception to the rule in Francis’s book.

Marion Jones, the self-proclaimed “internet junkie”, wanted to sell the public on her having never done a search on the name Charlie Francis prior to doing business with him. She posits that she had never been in contact with a steroid pusher, just a technician – the same technician who, after her departure from him, was discovered to have been a part of the Tim Montgomery/Victor Conte association later revealed as “Project World Record” before they both chose him.

The “internet junkie” would like us to believe she had never heard of Charlie Francis – the man who was a regular contributor to Testosterone Magazine, and in December 2001, slightly over a year before Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery switched coaching allegiances, stated:

Perhaps we really should give out medals to the scientists assisting the athletes, Francis wrote. That'll never happen, of course. But make no mistake - the theme of modern sport regarding drug use remains 'business as usual'. [10]

The Guardian reported that Marion Jones had denied working with Francis, having stated she was being trained by Derek Hansen, an obscure man who was nearly unheard of in the Canadian athletics ranks. The Guardian also states that a news agency circulated a photograph worldwide – one taken from a distance with a long lens – which they stated proved what Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery were preparing for a workout with Francis.

The Guardian also cited a quote Francis provided Testosterone Magazine dated in 2002:

'To give you an idea of the scope of the drug use of top athletes today, I'll give you the protocol for one top sprint group, as revealed by a defector,' Francis wrote in his article. The athletes were using a 12-week administration of [steroids] Anavar and Halotestin as well as GH (growth hormone), injections of ATP, AMP with embryonic calf cell preparation 3x/week, insulin as well as EPO. Yes, they even use EPO in the 100 meters!'[11]

Dr. Catlin, following his own suspicions, stated in July 2004 that the next wave of steroid development would be designer EPO.

Sports Illustrated columnist Tim Layden, in his 2002-December-20 column, stated that photographs during that week showed Francis stretching Jones before a workout. Layden wrote that Montgomery was also seen with Francis.

International Herald Tribune columnist Christopher Clarey – commenting from France – thought word being spread of the Marion Jones-Charlie Francis arrangement was a vicious rumour until learning otherwise.

I would still have difficulty believing it if not for a story in the French sports daily L'Equipe on Tuesday, appropriately headlined “Les liaisons dangereuses,” which detailed a reporter's visit to Toronto's York University where he had a close encounter with Montgomery, Jones and Francis between training sessions. [12]

IOC President Jacques Rogge made the following statement about that partnership choice:

To have a link with someone like Charlie Francis is not a criminal offense, Rogge said. You can't disqualify her, but it is stupid to train with a guy with the reputation of Francis. [13]

Marion Jones, the woman with a flair for acting and drama, pulled one right from the ancient of all excuses, mounting herself right atop the excuse list with Greek philosopher Socrates when she claimed ignorance of the fact that yet another man in her life had issues.

If you’re keeping track on the lie score sheet, please provide an update on the number of them Marion Jones has thus far committed.

Colin Jackson, the former world 110m hurdles record-holder, understood Marion Jones and Montgomery could have been too young to have understood Francis’s impact on the sport, but heeded them a stern warning.

Tim and Marion are probably too young to realise what a huge impact Charlie Francis had on the sport in that era.

My advice to them would be: Don't improve because fingers will be pointed. I'm not surprised that they want to do better. But they are already the fastest in the world. What they are doing is already special. I'm disappointed for them because whatever they do will be tarnished. I'm sure there are better coaches in the world they could have gone to. [14]

Marion Jones heeded such advice – though not due to Jackson’s warning. She was to never improve again.

CNNSI.com printed an article at the end of 2002 stating that Charlie Francis stank from Steroids at the time Marion Jones made her decision to select him as much as he had in 1988, when the Ben Johnson Olympic scandal unfolded.

Nothing has happened in the 14 years since Seoul to wash the stink off Charlie Francis. His reputation alone is enough to tarnish anything that Jones does under his tutelage. But it's not just reputation. Francis can be found all over the Web, espousing controlled drug use for elite explosive athletes, explaining that success is impossible without drugs. [15]

The IAAF didn’t consider Marion Jones’s ignorance proclamation, raised serious concern over the coaching agreement, and cited that Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery were tarnishing the sport’s image – something Marion Jones had no apparent lack of concern over prior to the arrangement. The IAAF continued on to state that although they weren’t legally able to prohibit Marion Jones from making a coaching choice, her special status in the sport had ramifications which impacted the sport’s image and reputation.

This is about the reputation and image of the sport,” IAAF general secretary Istvan Gyulai said on Wednesday.

This is raising so many eyebrows and causing so much public debate and interest. We believe it is our duty to get involved.

Marion and Tim are idols to many millions of people around the world.[16]

However, on 2003-January-31, the IAAF issued a statement in support of Charlie Francis’s full reinstatement to resume and train top athletes again if he issued a statement against the use of performance-enhancing drugs. [17]

Istvan Gyulai, the IAAF general secretary, gave Francis's statement a cautious welcome. “If it is a very clear putting an end - an irreversible end - to his former philosophy or concept about performance-enhancing drugs, if it is a new approach, then I would say I am pleased with it,” he said. [18]

Francis denied any drugs association with Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery, and stated in the above-quoted Guardian article that, over his 15 years of coaching, he had neither encouraged nor condoned the use of steroids in sports – statements met by the IAAF with cautious optimism. This would prove to be a lie.

Where the IAAF failed was in going a step further back – to 1979 when Francis began a steroids regimen with Canadian Angella Taylor, and subsequently began with Johnson two years later. Francis believed they both needed performance-enhancing drugs – human growth hormone – to train harder to beat the Americans.

Montgomery was asked by media during a USATF Track & Field Championships news conference in 2003 if working with Francis had damaged his own credibility.

An interesting analogy was painted.

If your wife is an alcoholic, does that make you an alcoholic? Are you tainted because you are married to your wife? [19]

If the answer to this rhetorical question is “no”, then apparently being married to a drugs-user and speaking for him on your own behalf does not make one a drugs user, either.

Or did it?


[1] The San Francisco Chronicle, “‘The clear’ reportedly sickened some athletes”, 2004-06-28
[2] Guyana Chronicle, “Jones hints at multiple golds in Athens”, 2003-08-14
[3] The Daily Telegraph, “’I can not understand why anyone would choose Francis’”, 2003-02-01
[4] BBC, “Greene blasts ‘stupid’ Montgomery”, 2003-01-22
[5] ESPN The Magazine, “No where to run”, 2004-06-07
[6] San Francisco Chronicle, “Jones must have her case on the air”, 2004-06-03
[7] Toronto Sun, “Give Charlie another shot”, 2003-01-30
[8] Los Angeles Times, “Jones’ Painful Cut”, 2003-02-06
[9] The Daily Telegraph, “Francis’ return alarms athletics”, 2003-02-02
[10] The Guardian, “Marion Jones’s Shady Past”, 2002-12-31
[11] The Guardian, “Jones steps up her denial campaign”, 2004-07-25
[12] International Herald Tribune, “Strange tales’ one uplifting and one disturbing”, 2003-01-31
[13] The New York Times, “Jones Criticizes Rogge’s Statement”, 2004-06-08
[14] The Telegraph, “US duo faces hurdles, warns Jackson”, 2003-01-31
[15] CNNSI.com, “Would Marion Jones choose dark path?”, 2002-12-20
[16] BBCi “IAAF accuses sprint couple”, 2003-01-29
[17] The New York Times, “I.A.A.F. Moves to Reinstate Coach”, 2003-02-01
[18] The Telegraph, “Francis’ return alarms athletics”, 2003-02-02
[19] The New York Times, “The World’s Fastest Man is Knocked Off Stride”, 2003-06-19

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