Why You Shouldn't Believe Marion Jones: Vol. 54

Story by Eric.

This is the 54th 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. Though parts of this story may be historical in nature, they are of essense to the sum of the whole insofar as they tell a story of a woman who is more complicit in the BALCO affairs and her own drug-taking than she has led on.

My last entry described the number of men who have been associated with cheating now running at five-consecutive for Marion Jones, a disgraced ex-elite sprinter who has had working or personal relationships associated with cheating. In two of those cases–both involving checks–Marion Jones had been perceived to have apparently held an open account used without her knowledge or authorisation.

Before Marion Jones confessed, the excuse-matter was running dry, yet people continued listening, hoping and seeking out a way to make sense of the drama surrounding a woman who held the world captive during an incredulous five-season stretch which concluded in 2001. They were, like others who had been before them–but who had earlier seen the light–fans of the sport, and believed true, gritty determination and guts got one Marion Jones to the big game.

If they have now, perchance, undergone a metamorphosis from their predisposition to slow understanding to become students of the sport, they should now find themselves pondering over whether nine thousand words of testimony, accounts and figures were a piece of true accounts of history, or if they were conjecture and factual fiction.

One can find it very easy to parse words, excerpt statements and fit contexts of messages into one’s own defence of a position. One can assemble everything ever written about Marion Jones and apply it in some way, fashion or form against Marion Jones to demonstrate that she had been a hard, chiselled individual who steered fans down a beaten path, despised them, then wondered where they had taken way when she felt it was time for them to reach out to her in forgiveness of her misdeeds.

There are fans such as this one who did not veer off course despite the warning signs:

Whats [sic] sad is that the main organizations around this sport along with Dick Pound would love nothing more than to bury the woman who made this sport what it is. She took this sport to its highest point and while it may have fallen a little with her it was only beginning to rise as she did. More people than not want to see her succeed now and i am one of them. I was at USA's when she was announced and the crowed went crazy they really wanted to see her win and when she did so you couldnt [sic] hear yourself think. The crowed backed her more then they backed Gatlin. She was the sweetheart of our sport and the Sydney Olympics and people do want to see her back to that point. She is a great athlete and that is alot [sic] of the reaon [sic] people hate her simply becuase [sic] she is great and that is sad. She was a role model for so many people and that was then... she is that now becuase [sic] she had fallen from grace and fought her way back and so many people idolize her becuase [sic] of that. She is gifted woman and people need to leave her alone. The evidence shows that she is clean and did not dope so leave it at that. If any other athlete had this happen nobody would second guess the method of the EPO test and that person would not have been leaked to the public but because some people high up dont [sic] like her it was leaked and that is awful. Let her keep doing what she is doing and acknowlege [sic] her greatness.”[1]

One can take newspaper accounts and demonstrate–through the meanings authored by others before me–that Marion Jones set out to beat a system not designed to catch her while she gracefully glided by to her goal line–a finish line which, when reached, would have Marion Jones being the best in the world, the fastest in the world, and one of the most influential in her own world.

However, all of that is unnecessary to support a theory I’d held–one which has now become incarcerated in the prison of reality for Marion Jones by her own shaky voice and self-admission; Marion Jones aptly enabled one to connect all of the writings on the wall and in the garbage bins and make a novel out of those “facts”.

One of my favourite quotes is from a man in Iowa, United States who runs a blog called “Steroids Nation”. He summed up the sad state of events in the sport in 2006 most poignantly:

How sad. Once the winner of a race was the athlete who crossed the finish line first. Now the winner is the athlete who crossed the finish line ahead of the others, who hasn't been disqualified by the testing lab, or was re-qualified by his/her lawyer. If an athlete wins he/she should thank family, coach, trainer, nutritionist, doctor/drug guru, pharmacist, dealer, lab supervisor who helped he/she beat the test, pharmaceutical house who developed the drugs and the masking agents, legal team who defended her, etc. etc.[2]

One can take what her peers had done, and accuse Marion Jones of having foreknowledge of those cover-up events which followed simply by being in the wrong spot at the right time, and brushing them aside as being problems not her own. One is also able to string along a series of people in Marion Jones’s life who had failed–some miserably, and degrade Marion Jones’s ability to tell the truth simply by her having entirely too many non-truths stacked in a row, as if to say 10 non-truths trump one truth, for example.

Again, such lean attempts to discover the truth seem no longer necessary to the common eye now that Marion Jones has testified to the world that she was a liar.

Kosher would be to say that perhaps Marion Jones had made some personal mistakes in her life and hit some small bumps in the road...that perhaps she had, after having a faulty compass prone to point due south, adjusted her course to a direction away from high tides and rocky waters.

Marion Jones, an educated woman gifted with good speech and the world’s best poker face, had confessed on a previous occasion of indiscretion, and had claimed non-knowledge on another occasion involving a bad connection with a coach–though she never confessed for deceiving people as to how she changed from an unknown to an unwanted overnight, figuratively speaking.

She had, according to the principles guiding right and wrong, identified problem areas, acknowledged they had existed, made her, herself, accountable to those problems, and stated she was on course to not repeat those problems.

Marion Jones had earlier confessed to simpler things in life most overlook as too petty over which to concern themselves. In hindsight to her confession of guilt–known in the legal world by the word “felony” – these were all preparations for her final curtain call before the world.

There are others, who, like Marion Jones–and the rest of the human race–have walked down some particular valley of shadows, and have lied when the sun shone overhead. Those, who, like Marion Jones–and the rest of the living who have the ability to comprehend–have transgressed in some way, form or fashion, have also made known–or have had those indiscretions made known–to an accountable source, described those transgressions, and were believed to be telling the truth in the matters regarding their individual concerns.

It is conceivable–and plausible–to believe most people had forgiven Marion Jones for choosing bad men in her life, though Marion Jones did not need the forgiveness of any single, solitary person alive for an event–or events–which occurred in her private life between herself and the men with whom she chose to make house and home.

It was commendable for a person like Marion Jones to have stepped forward when she recognised problems had occurred, and stated to the open public that she had severed the cause of those problems from her life–especially after having turned her back on the very people from whom she had garnered support, namely her fans.

But Marion Jones was still living under a dark cloud of deception, and had tampered with the amount of truth she was spreading to the waning support she was receiving from people around the globe.

Marion Jones was an athlete who was caught up in an entanglement of deception – the victim of collateral damage, some stated prior to her confession. Some had believed she’d said hers, and should have been left alone to do what she enjoyed best, that is to say run fast to the finish line. They contended that Marion Jones had never demonstrated any real falsehood which should have warranted so much paper space, and baseless accusations against her were harmful, imprudent, and just plain wrong.

It turns out that they were just plain right.

Other athletes had, like Marion Jones–and the rest of the living, and dearly departed–made mistakes in their lives, in their careers, and in their sport which have caused harm, been seen as destructive, and which had caused equal and opposite effects to the degree to which the infractions or improprieties were committed.

One such person was Kelli White.

Doctor Richard A. Fridman, writing a piece on behaviour for The New York Times back in 2003, began a story about liars as such:

Prevaricate. Equivocate. Fib. Call it what you like, it's still lying. And lying, as everyone knows, is just bad and wrong.

Liars have even been promised cruel and eternal punishment. Dante, in his Inferno,” hurled them into the eighth circle of hell, along with other falsifiers, putting them one moral step below violent offenders. Their sin? Deliberate and calculated deception, a transgression apparently worse than the spontaneous crimes of passion.” [3]

Kelli White, as you have learned in the history of this sport from sources unlimited and too numerous to state, had, like Marion Jones, committed the worst possible athletics sin known to the spirit of competition: she did purposefully cheat when it was her responsibility to ensure no prohibited substances–known or unknown–entered her body, and she lied about her involvement in cheating.

White was a cheat–a person despised for betraying the ethics of hard work and dedication by using an illegal method to defy the limits placed on nature. She did wilfully, and with extreme prejudice for achieving the objective for which she had set out, participate in a plan to execute and cover up a scheme to defraud this sport of its history, records and reputation–resulting in condemnation for her, shame on her family, and banishment for two years from the sport which had provided her success and livelihood.

By using a needleless syringe filled with a pale yellow-coloured clear under her tongue on an average of every second day, applying the cream to her arm and taking EPO injection shots into her stomach to wilfully deceive and cheat and being linked with using these undetectable drugs, White was immediately removed from her arsenal were the free passes to Eugene, Paris, Berlin, Stockholm, Oslo, Zürich–and every other place which seemed to glitter under the night lights by the world’s greatest, most knowledgeable fans in attendance cheering on her every step toward the finish line.

Her redefined place in the sport was a spot behind a television set several time zones removed from the action in which she had longed to compete, and had sorely missed.

Kelli White’s own problem and her own doing. She made a mistake, and the consequences–tough as they might seem–were fair, accurate, and immediate. She rose, she fell, she cried and made her peace with the sport.

Case closed, and next story.

Tim Montgomery was a man who was ambitious–he was a 3rd-wheeler in a competition where he felt he had his rightful place as a contender, despite the limit and extent provided by his physical, god-given abilities.

Tim Montgomery ran as fast as what was thought humanly possible, covering 0-100m in 9,78 seconds with the perfect conditions set: wind, temperature and reaction time. He was later discovered to have cheated while in the playground, and the king of the mountain was dethroned, dejected and despised in the world in which he lived, that of athletics.

Montgomery did wilfully–with the consequence of achieving his world record and beating the system outweighing any fallout caused by detection and all that it bore–deliberately defraud, delude and dishonour the sport of track and field, resulting in a penalty of banishment away from the spotlight, far from the glory once adorned him, and without a history. His past was but an afterthought marked with an asterisk, his livelihood cut off in an instant.

He fell from grace, and his image became tarnished with an indelible black-marker stain.

Poor Tim?

No, it’s his doing, his problem, his story. Stuff happens, and he confessed this past Tuesday in the absence of lawsuit or legal action being taken against him.

Next case, please.

Victor Conte was once known to be a hip man. Conte played bass in a band named “Tower of Power”, which has been described as an integrated funk outfit–a gig he joined up with in 1978, replacing Francis Rocco Prestia, and left in 1979. He spent a total of 18 years in the music business, was known by the name “Walking Fish”, and rubbed elbows with known celebrities.

He then started a small company–a preventative-medicine centre–which performed comprehensive mineral and trace element assessments on athletes, which, based upon the test results, specific nutritional supplementation recommendations were made to those athletes. He began as a distributor in a Santa Barbara, CA lab in 1984 and bought the medical rights to the equipment five years later, and moved to the Bay Area. He proceeded to make trips to Stanford University’s medical library and copy articles about minerals and how to measure them.

Duly speaking, it was the genesis of BALCO.

Then Conte got greedy. And someone else, they got even greedier.

Conte did wilfully, without regard to the laws governing either the body or the soul, defraud the sport of purity by producing the world’s fastest, synthetically-enhanced species. He was then knocked off the totem pole with the snitch release of a performance-enhancing drug in a syringe to Dr. Don Catlin, and thus fell the BALCO Empire–one piece of evidence, one protected testimony and one victim of their own doing at a time.

Feel sorry for poor, old Vic for transcending from a night player in bars, to a confined man behind bars?

No. He cheated to the highest degree, and got what came to him.

Game over. Insert new quarter.

There is a sustained list of athletes who had made choices to lie, cheat, steal and swindle fans of their vicarious hopes and dreams. Many before them–in eras known for such occurrences–have never been caught, and have never confessed to these wrongdoings. This is not a new phenomenon.

They’d reached such high scores on the achievement scale that no amount of quarters or cheat-sheets can ever sufficiently guide or instruct those behind them on how to surpass them without trying to tilt the machine. Moreover, they’ve massed up millions in greed points, that the help they’d received along the way had often been discarded and left on its own.

Patrick Arnold put it into very good perspective:

They are superstars making millions, and I'm getting a pittance," he says of the athletes who used his drugs. "I'm the one getting maligned in the press and going to prison, and they are still playing. I got the raw end of the deal.[4]

Marion Jones and Conte shared a similar love-hate relationship: Conte, according to her, was first a man whom she barely had a working relationship. He went on to become a liar and a cheat–a man facing a heavy prison sentence, we were told. When Marion Jones’s initial test result was leaked, Conte sat back and said I told you so. When Marion Jones fell into her own trap, being forced into a recognition of her previous indiscretions, Conte was there again telling the world, I told you so. He was also there telling the world that she only did what she had to do to get by within the parameters by which she was training and competing–to keep things level with her competitors, that is to say.

As there is an exception to every rule, and there are twenty five different pennies to every one quarter, one fact has arisen in this story which should greatly be considered when attempting to have the punishment fit the crime:

Hope can arise from the ashes when the lights have turned out, the fans have turned elsewhere and the conscience has time to actually weigh in on subject of cheating.


[1] Trackshark.com message board, “Marion Jones’ B test comes back negative”, 2006-09-11

[2] Track & Field News message board, August 18, 2006 – The Day Track Died,” 2006-08-16

[3] The New York Times, “Truth About Lies’ They Tell a Lot About Liars”, 2003-08-05

[4] Sports Illustrated, “Is This Dr. Evil”, 2006-10-03

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