Story by Eric.
(This is the 15th 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 took a short period of time collecting energy in an attempt to bridge the past and the present, having had yet one other home address to farm off as she attempted to flee the times of yore and dive into the future with Thompson – this in spite of her legal troubles and lack of money. Legal record listed Marion Jones on Tharrington Road in Wake Forest in 2006 – an address she listed when, whilst performing her civic duty, voted in person in the 2006-November-7 General Election in Wake Forest, using the said address there.
Two weeks later, she paid her property taxes in full – an amount which would have had her double her stated bank balance before payment was remitted according to the deposition she made which was reported by the Los Angeles Times. This was a one-unit, 1½-story 3.623 square-foot home built on a 1,84-acre lot in 2002 which Marion Jones received the deed on 2005-August-22 at a maximum obligation limit of $102.375.
That home was sold off with Thompson and Marion Jones both named as grantors of estate when the new owners were awarded the deed on 2007-April-24, though they were already married and living in Texas when the deal was made.
We’ll get back on track with the matter of homes and purchases in a short while.
Marion Jones has at times in her past history been perceived by reporters and athletes connected to her world as being a person who walked a very fine line between being eager and having confidence, to being downright arrogant and aloof. Bearing that in mind, many fans who held such pre-conceived ideas about Marion Jones’s personality shall have be so inclined to believe Marion Jones’s shock admission was more likely due to her having been surprised that she had been narrowly close to being exposed as a drugs cheat than it was of a person being taken aback in sincerity in an honest to God I didn’t do it type of way.
Unfortunately, despite those who, perchance, were predisposed to slow understanding where they found themselves on her test sample issues, no amount of spin-control could come to Marion Jones’s salvation in the final chapter of a disputatious career when she was forced to begin revealing some of those dirty little secrets which had remained within. The situation, as they say, did spin out of control.
One person who was there waiting in the soaring heat was Dick Pound, the WADA big boss.
Pound did his part in ensuring it would continue to spin, despite the small hiccup he faced in his pursuit of truth in the matter of Non-Analytical Positives vs. Marion Jones. No Greater rivalry has existed for Marion Jones than the one with Dick Pound, author of Inside the Olympics: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Politics, the Scandals, and the Glory of the Games, released in 2004.
Pound can be compared to being the wind gauge aimed spot on down Marion Jones’s lane or on the runway following her back to measure for allowance purposes: if he, like the machine, detected any extra non-permissible push behind her efforts, those efforts were to become disqualified for record purposes.
WADA has an annual budget of $25 million and oversees the drug testing done by all of the world’s sports federations. WADA finances research for measures to stay catch up – and get ahead – of the BALCOs of the world, or those who attempt to beat the drug testing system, but has had difficulty unifying its international sports federations. WADA was brought to life by the International Olympic Committee to bring together the Olympic movement and public authorities into a singular body in order to combat drugs in sport – something the IOC acted upon following leadership criticism toward the IOC in 1998.
WADA also credentials a network of drug-testing laboratories around the world – including the laboratory in Los Angeles, and conducts some of its own drug-testing of athletes. WADA also updates its list of prohibited substances in several publications as well as its home page, a list which 191 countries around the world have accepted as the binding Anti-Doping Code.
Pound was featured in an article in Wired Magazine on 28-December-2006 entitled “The Righteous Fury of Dick Pound.” Pound was portrayed as a one-man crusader who has made several enemies along the course of trying rid sports of drugs. His style and manner of communicating his stance on doping issues – including athletes he suspects of doping and/or federations he suspects of covering up those improprieties – has come under attack by several people in the sport over the years since WADA has existed, Marion Jones notwithstanding.
“It's confrontation,” Pound says about his style. “You're confronting a problem: People agree to certain rules of the game and then deliberately break them. You can't finesse it or isolate it or surround it. You have to confront it.”
His critics disagree. To them, the problem isn't the rules, it's the enforcer.
“If Dick Pound is saying, ‘I’m going to be an advocate in these cases,’ then athletes start to wonder, ‘Am I even going to get a fair hearing here?’” says Howard Jacobs, an attorney who has represented several athletes, including Landis and Jones. “When you have the head of WADA passing judgment on pending cases, whatever the intention is, certainly people can question whether one of the goals is to signal to arbitrators how you expect the results to come out.”
Pound dismisses these complaints. “I'm not getting much criticism from athletes who aren't using drugs. I'm getting it from the folks who either have been caught, are representing those who have been caught, or are representing organizations who don't want to admit that there's a problem.”
Howard Jacobs’ legal posturing faced the possibility of backfiring when Pound sought the CAS presidency role which became available following Kebe Mbaye’s death in 2007-January. Pound was not elected, rather finished runner-up for the role.
The CAS – or Court for the Arbitration of Sport – is located geographically located in Lausanne, Switzerland, and acts as a final stage verdict in all appealed cases between athletes and those accusing them of sports wrong-doings or disputes.
“It's closer to what I actually do for a living than anything that I've ever done for the IOC," he told The Associated Press. “I'd certainly be willing to do it.”
Marion Jones found a temporary reprieve – if nothing more than a personal satisfaction of having the law, and the upholding of it, on her side – by having her “B”-sample drugs test findings demonstrate levels inconsistent with her initial “A-sample” findings, thus eliminating her physically from the charges of performance-enhancing drugs use – but not removing her from any of the allegations – to which she provided admittance in October 2007.
Pound has made it a personal mission to clean up drugs in sport, and butted heads with Marion Jones over this cleansing process. Both resembled two rams with very determined agendas and significant will-power spearing each other on to cripple and render ineffective the other. Marion Jones may have been provided breathing room, but appearances – as folks have witnessed on so many occasions – can be, and are, deceiving.
The space between her and Pound grew too close for her comfort when she, following her affirmation of culpability, was at last linked to having been a cheat – though not a drugs cheat in her own words to the media, rather a liar.
The New York Times also ran an extensive piece on Pound (2007-January-7), entitling the article, “The Scold”. Pound, engaging the United States – one of his biggest targets in the fight against doping due to what can be perceived as cover-ups, sounded off against America.
“There aren’t too many people who are prepared to point the finger at America and say: ‘Hey, take off the [expletive] halo. You’re just like everybody else.’ That’s a problem in America. America has a singular ability to delude itself.”
Pound may (or not) deserve the attention he’s brought upon himself, having being construed as a brash, take no prisoners dictator. He’s become a master of quotes, and as much as he speaks, journalists continue to write. His goal, he states, has been to keep sport clean, but he has less belief in the cleanliness of athletes, themselves.
“Here’s the deal,” he says. “The shot-put weighs this much. The race is so many laps long. You can’t hollow out your shot-put and make it 12 pounds instead of 16. You don’t start before the gun. Run 11 laps instead of 12. And part of the deal is don’t use these drugs. It’s kind of an affirmation when you show up at the starting line. You are making an affirmation that you are playing the game the way it is supposed to be played.”
Marion Jones, oddly enough, sided with Pound in another story earlier published by The New York Times, one which appeared to be a sentiment-gathering piece, stating:
“I agree with Dick Pound,” Jones said, referring to the chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency, about the conflicting A and B test results. “There has to be an answer. Why? Is it human error, or is it the test itself?”
Marion Jones had openly forgotten that Pound was also seeking an athletics death penalty against Marion Jones, and had stated on record that WADA still reserved the right to test have Marion Jones “B”-sample analysed at another facility by a different group of scientists to ensure the readings were accurate. Siding with the man who had made it a near personal struggle to lasso in Marion Jones from her high horse was unexpected from a woman who has had a very contentious co-existence with Pound in the sport.
“I suppose if our experts look at it and say on the basis of what we have seen, there is no question it should have been positive, we have an opportunity to put that into play.”
Some fans were loitering in the denial lobby during this nine-year Marion Jones-is-probably-guilty case, and, consequently, were unable to acknowledge the veracity of circumstantial evidences claims on this slippery slope provided to them in their little corners of the real world by journalists on a hard course due east in search of the “inside scoop”. They were not entirely too late, however.
After taking a hard right hook on the chin, and nearly falling down for the count – but deemed alert enough to make it through the end of the match following her “A/B-sample” fiasco, the only remnants which were remaining of a once stellar championship career later discovered to have been built on the power of “the clear” were now too few to even be considered healthy scraps for a family dog; there was little of integrity or substance remaining in the Marion Jones saga which could cause your family pet to cease from licking his tail – no matter how much you may have tried coercing him.
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