Why You Shouldn't Believe Marion Jones: Vol. 48

Story by Eric.

This is the 48th 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.

When Marion Jones left Dan Pfaff, she enlisted another man, temporarily, whom she also would eventually no longer trust – a person who, after his greatest 15 minutes of fame, called her his “guardian angel” – a man, who, several years later, she would battle to pay child support, accusing him of failing “to adequately contribute to the support and maintenance” of their son.

Marion Jones’s starkest public relations challenge outside of her own admission of guilt to taking drugs presented itself in the form of separating herself – a person who has claimed her character and her position on drugs usage is unaltered – from exactly that man, her ex-boyfriend, Tim Montgomery – a later-confessed drug cheat – and drug-dealer, an accused swindler of money, the father of their baby boy, as well as the father of three other children with three other mothers.

Tim Montgomery, once a guest on popular American television talk shows “David Letterman” and the “Today” show – and, who, with Marion Jones made a guest appearance on talk-show host Oprah Winfrey’s Amazing World Record Winners special episode, has been caught in a grotesque entanglement of falsity and improprieties ranging from check fraud, money laundering, being stripped of a world, American and personal 100m record time, and, on December 15, 2005, being banned from his sport for two years.

Marion Jones was snared in one of the unlawful acts, and she lied about it.

Montgomery, a minister’s son, never failed a drugs test. He never had his own feet caught in a trap from which he could not escape. He, like Marion Jones, had been accused of taking drugs, but no “A”-sample, nor “B”-sample test of any kind ever exposed him as a drugs cheat. Ever.

Montgomery’s feet may have helped him run from trouble, but his mouth backed him into a two-year confinement in the hole.

Montgomery’s name surfaced in the BALCO hearings when a government memorandum from September 2004 claimed Conte had admitted to providing steroids to 27 athletes including Marion Jones, Tim Montgomery, Regina Jacobs, Kevin Toth (who tested positive for THG at the 2003 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, and again during an out-of-competition test on 2003-July-27; and also, according to the USADA complaint, tested positive for modafinil), Alvin Harrison, Calvin Harrison, White, Gaines, Eric Thomas, Collins, Ramon Clay, Chambers, John McEwen, Zhanna Block and Olga Vasdeki.

Conte’s lawyer acknowledged the existence of the memorandum, but he denied that Conte made the comments.

Arguedas, after Montgomery received a letter from USADA stating Montgomery was a suspect of a possible drug violation, stated on record that Montgomery had not violated any rule.

It is fundamentally unfair to try to take away an athlete's reputation, his work and his dreams based on meager evidence, flimsy documents and a flawed process, Cristina Arguedas, Montgomery's lawyer, said in a telephone conference call. Tim Montgomery has done nothing wrong.”[1]

Montgomery told a Federal Grand Jury during the BALCO hearings that he used human growth hormone and a magic potion designed to evade detection over an eight-month time span ending in the summer of 2001 – products, he stated, he received from Victor Conte.

Montgomery stated that he and Graham had met Conte at the Sydney Games, where Conte was working as Marion Jones’s “nutritionist”, though Marion Jones had stated she had no working relationship to Conte, and had only met him a couple of times.

Victor Conte, himself, states that he had begun working on a drugs program for Marion Jones six weeks prior to Sydney, but had only met her for the first time on the way to speak at a news conference on the issue surrounding C.J. Hunter’s four positive nandrolone tests.

Marion Jones confessed to having taken “the clear” – an illegal BALCO product – in the build-up to the Sydney Olympics.

Montgomery testified that White was using “the clear,” and that his previous short-term coach, Charlie Francis, was giving the drug to an unnamed runner he was coaching – though Francis stated he had nothing to do with drugs.

Francis, meanwhile, had stated that Montgomery and Marion Jones had proven to him whilst secretly training in Toronto with him what athletes could achieve without having to resort to taking performance-enhancing drugs – a statement which proved to be a blatant lie with regard to at least one of the two people he named, and with his own back-door involvement in the Montgomery world record goal.

“Project World Record”, a doping scheme devised by Conte and Graham – with the aid of Francis – ensured Tim Montgomery would never be forgotten as the attention his rivals were receiving seemed to strictly be about Maurice Green and Chambers every race – a fact which Montgomery didn’t take sitting down.

Want to hear something amazing? There's a BALCO calendar for Tim that shows he was taking insulin, EPO, growth hormone, The Clear and adrenaline -- five different performance-enhancing agents -- through 2001. At the end of June, Tim won the United States championship. Soon after, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency sent him a post competition letter that said’ "Congratulations, Tim. You've tested negative for all performance-enhancing substances in the sample that was collected." He was using all these drugs, and USADA couldn't detect any of them. So how easy is it to beat the USADA test? It's like taking candy from a baby. The results of Project World Record, by the way, were phenomenal. Tim made $600,000 in 2001.[2]

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Montgomery disclosed to grand jurors under immunity from prosecution grant that he was an athlete who had struggled to remain drug- free despite great temptation to use steroids to get an edge on the elite track scene.

The San Francisco Chronicle cites Montgomery stating that before the 2000 Olympics in Australia, when he was working with Graham, Montgomery was often offered performance-enhancing drugs – sometimes by Graham, himself, who has maintained he has had no knowledge of any athletes he coaches ever taking drugs. Montgomery named the Graham Mexican steroids “connection” who knew a horse veterinarian across the border. Montgomery stated, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, that he refused Graham’s suggestion to use the drugs, due to Montgomery fearing he would suffer a career-ending positive drug test.

I witnessed a bag coming out to the track and Trevor ... telling me that, 'If you take this right here, you'll be clear on the day of your 100 meters finals,’” he testified. And prior to that I heard about five other people testing positive under Trevor Graham. And something inside of me said, 'Oh, no, that's all right.’”[3]

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Montgomery said that his refusal to take those drugs offered by Graham caused tension between Graham and him, though after the Olympics, Montgomery said he and Graham went to Burlingame to meet with Conte about “Project World Record.”

Shaun Assael, reporting for ESPN The Magazine, also states that Montgomery and Graham travelled Burlingame to meet Conte, but paints a point-of-view which saw Montgomery begin with Graham being kept out of Montgomery’s loop, but at the insistence of his wife.

A few months after returning from Sydney, Montgomery made another call. This one went to Conte, the former bassist-turned-supplement maker who'd been hanging around the fringes of the track scene since the late '80s. Conte's San Francisco-based BALCO lab had built a small, loyal following among elite athletes, who asked Conte to test their blood for mineral deficiencies and advise them on replacements. The two agreed to meet.

Initially, Graham says he was left out of the loop. When a sheepish Montgomery admitted to buying a ticket to San Francisco, the coach asked his wife what he should do. “It's your reputation,” she said. “You have to go.”[4]

Graham and Francis had claimed that Montgomery left the BALCO lab drug-free after agreeing to tackle “Project World Record” with the Graham, Francis and Conte assault team. A source close to the case – according to ESPN The Magazine, stated Montgomery left with THG.

Information and testimony – including his own – collected in the hearings ousted Montgomery as a cheat, with Montgomery publicly denying – insisting adamantly – that he had never taken performance-enhancing drugs, and that he had no relationship with Conte. Montgomery also stated that he was being framed, and had no working relationship – with Victor Conte, as Marion Jones has also stated. Conte, in his private e-mail exchange to Mark Fainaru-Wada, stated Montgomery was “dumb for trashing me like that”.

Arguedas, Montgomery’s attorney during his doping accusation process, stated that Montgomery had been a willing participant in the drug testing process, having had passed every test he had ever taken.

Montgomery had also testified under oath on 2003-November-6 that he had a masking agent to fool the testing process – information the public would never would have learned sans a leak of Montgomery’s Grand Jury testimony.

Marion Jones, much as to the same tune in her defence of her ex-husband C.J. Hunter, stated the following during Montgomery’s proceedings:

Tim Montgomery is a good person, a great athlete and an even better father,” Jones said in a statement issued yesterday by her public relations team. “I support him and believe in him and I have no doubt that if a fair process is applied that Tim will be racing for gold in Athens this August.”[5]

Marion Jones made a similar personal statement following the C.J. Hunter revelation:

Aside from him being an athlete and me being an athlete, he's my husband and I'm here to show support for him, she said. I have full and complete respect, and believe the legal system will do what it needs to do to clear his name.[6]

In a public statement made to news media, The New York Times cites Marion Jones as follows:

As you can imagine, she said, I have discussed the whole situation with him and I know what's going on and I think that it's extremely unfortunate what has been leaked.

We don't know if it's true, we don't know if it's not. I know for a fact that Tim Montgomery, he's a wonderful friend, he's a great father. He says that he has never taken any performance-enhancing drugs, that he worked hard for his world record, and I believe him.[7]

Montgomery – as did Hunter – had a fair, judicial process applied to his case, and, like Marion Jones previous beau, failed to have his name cleared.

Montgomery’s case had a civilian standard of guidance attached to it in the form of USADA burden of proof, though the USADA’s burden of proving Montgomery’s guilt increased with the non-analytical positive.

As often becomes evident when the question of standard of proof is debated, the debate looms larger in theory than practice. Counsel for all parties concurred with the views expressed by the members of the Panel during the 21-22 February 2005 hearing to the effect that even if the so-called “lesser”, “civil” standard were to apply – namely, proof on the balance of probability, or, in the specific context in which these cases arise, proof to the comfortable satisfaction of the Panel bearing mind the seriousness of the allegation which is made (what might be called the “comfortable satisfaction” standard) – an extremely high level of proof would be required to “comfortably satisfy” the Panel that Respondents were guilty of the serious conduct of which they stand accused.

Even under the traditional civil model, there is no absolute standard of proof. Built into the balance of probability standard is a generous degree of flexibility that relates to the seriousness of the allegations to be determined. In all cases the degree of probability must be commensurate with and proportionate to those allegations; the more serious the allegation the higher the degree of probability, or “comfort”, required. That is because, in general, the more serious the allegation the less likely it is that the alleged event occurred and, hence, the stronger the evidence required before the occurrence of the event is demonstrated to be more probable than not. [8]

Montgomery was permitted to fight for a spot on the USA Olympic team. He failed to qualify in a top-3 spot, and had his records – heats, round and final – all disqualified for the guilty verdict reached in that fair process.

With evidence and testimony mounted against him, and the word of the BALCO founder against his own, Montgomery confessed to the Federal government during his November 2003 hearing – incriminating himself and implicating Marion Jones, whose attorneys had steadfastly maintained that she had never taken performance-enhancing drugs, and that she was on the receiving end of a witch-hunt. Marion Jones and Montgomery – the “First Family” of track and field – split from each other.

It's kind of hard to be underneath the same household when you are going through some of the same things,” he said. “We decided to remain friends so we can concentrate on making a future for our [2-year-old] son. We decided to make a decision to better ourselves for our kid.[9]

“Some of the same things” would turn out to be connections to the same drug, namely “the clear”.

The USADA, upon receiving information pertinent to the Montgomery case, filed a motion to ban Montgomery from track & field, despite his lack of positive testing at any time. USADA decided to proceed with a lifetime ban against Montgomery based on the information it had been tipped on from testimony, including that of White.

The Sydney Morning Herald cited the San Jose Mercury News stating that White, after confessing for USADA officials, believed “other athletes will be charged, but I really cannot say anything more at this time.[10]

Riddick believed the CAS, which has nearly 200 four-year term arbitrators from 87 countries who are chosen for their specialist knowledge of arbitration and sports law, was dragging out the arbitration proceedings due to the organization having no foundational reason to ban Montgomery. It was Riddick’s position that Montgomery had never been caught for performance-enhancing drugs, had not done anything wrong, and had nothing to worry about.

“When they do (make a ruling), I think they’ll just say, ‘Tim Montgomery. You can go run.’ They won’t make a big deal. If they were going to crucify you, they’d go ahead and make it news.” [11]

The Virginian-Pilot quoted Riddick as being more overtly confident.

He’ll win that hearing easily,” he said. “And everyone will have to write that he’s cleared.” [12]

[1] The New York Times, “Drug Accusations Outlined Against 4 Elite Athletes,” 2004-06-09
[2] ESPN The Magazine, “Last Laugh”, 2004-12-20
[3] San Francisco Chronicle, “’The clear’ reportedly sickened some athletes”, 2004-06-28
[4] ESPN The Magazine, “Nowhere to run”, 2005-06-07
[5] Boston Globe, “USADA accuses four of doping,” 2004-06-09
[6] ESPN.com, “IOC chief says Hunter failed four drug tests,” 2000-09-25
[7] The New York Times, “Jones, Citing Fatigue, Exits the 200”, 2004-07-18
[8] CAS 2004/O/645, 2005-12-13
[9] Reuters, “Montgomery retires in wake of 2-year doping ban”, 2005-12-14
[10] Sydney Morning Herald, “White comes clean over drug-tainted past...”, 2004-05-21
[11] The State.com, “Way off track”, 2005-11-13
[12] The Virginian-Pilot, “Some of the world’s best are getting their feet under them in Hampton”, 2005-05-25

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