This is the 63rd and final 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, now in its final segment, is being told in its entirety, because Marion Jones is unable to do it herself inasmuch as she is more complicit in the BALCO affairs and her own drug-taking than she has led on.
As this series on Marion Jones now draws to a conclusion, one important question continues to arise throughout, namely: Can people prone to dishonesty in certain circumstances ever, under any non-compulsory situation, simply tell the truth?
Marion Jones, following years of nagging, begging, pleading and admonishing you to do just the opposite, wants you to believe anything is possible.
Fortunately, we are not here to solve that mystery of when, if and under which of circumstances they’d be more apt to act accordingly.
However, I’m basing much of my argument over the fact that, yes, indeed, mendacious people can and will do so sans reward, but will also even do so when the very real threat of direct punishment and punitive damages looms overhead.
Your job as peer adjudicators of this case is to first presume that Marion Jones has a clean slate and has never tested positive for any drugs. You owe it to her to reserve judgment until all of the facts in the matter of this case are collected and digested individually despite what my prejudices in the matter are.
You have a fantastic opportunity afforded to you to think critically through logic and reasoning to determine if there is enough convincing evidence to remove every reasonable doubt you could have as to assertions that Marion Jones has deceived, conned, tricked and lied about her involvement with performance-enhancing drugs – from the on-set of her career through to her final brush with danger in the form of a positive EPO test turned negative. If you have a single reasonable doubt about the veracity of her claims, you will be obligated as honorary deliberators to vote “not guilty.”
However steep your path rises in interpreting the truth of what Marion Jones states, nevertheless, the course upon which you will embark will involve an individual detailed mental self-examination of your feelings, thoughts, and motives as they relate to this case compared to the evidences provided on both sides – suggestions of exoneration and those which point to undeniable guilt. Those self-awareness activities have an integral relevance and impact on your belief system and judgment capabilities, and are, therefore elective courses of action for which you will be required to take in order to fairly and accurately play your role in this case for which you have been called.
Marion Jones wanted you to count partial evidences and statements of facts which actually omit fact to determine that, based on those “near truths,” you would be able to make good use of those assets and advantages to help her obtain success in this case. Triumph for Marion Jones and her camp, ladies and gentlemen, would have been a permanent, binding and final judgment on her character leading to no less than a “not guilty” verdict on the whole of her actions and associations, and no deviation from journalists, fans and any investigative agency down paths looking into the sum of the parts making up her character, reputation and achievements. Had she have been exonerated, that is, she would have wanted a cease-and-desist order placed on speculation – present or past.
She was granted no such reprieve, however, and was cast further into the spotlight.
It is because of her past that you sit here looking at her present situation, however, and are being asked by peers prosecuting this case in the public’s court to declare that Marion Jones, the former world an Olympic 100m champion, ineligible from all competitions as a professional athlete and to have her marks, times, places, honours and achievements stricken from historical accounts achieved by clean athletes – or those who have failed, themselves, to have thus far been caught. She has had a block of her history removed – a period between 2000 and 2006, but that accounts only for the time Marion Jones was willing to provide U.S. Federal authorities concerning her drugs-taking.
You, having demonstrated tremendous patience in sifting through the many thousands of words written to establish a case against Marion Jones, will also be requested to indebt Marion Jones to the sport in a manner and fashion appropriate and just for hoodwinking general fans who’d never imagined the degree of deception spun in the inner circles. Forcing Marion Jones to finally speak on her own behalf truths and more truths – and nothing but truth, so help her God – whom she relies on to take care of her financial needs and future, will remove doubt as to how clean waters in Marion Jones’s life turned into mud, why she willingly crossed into deserts wrought with danger, and how she grew wings in 13 weeks to rise past competition which was unmistakably superior in form and experience.
Though details about Marion Jones’s life will present you with factual information on her personal acquisitions and obligations, you are not here to judge the life and times of Marion Jones the free-spender and payment-skipper.
However, in concert with that spending, nonetheless, you will be asked to have her explain in reverse order the sequence of events from her alleged phone call to her attorney back to her testing day at USATF in order to factually capture those events as they occurred – leaving no stone unturned.
You have been told the “truth” as it was presented through Marion Jones and her counsel. You will and shall ask for Marion Jones to verify the truth in reverse chronological order without hesitation to establish if, indeed, the facts fall into place much as she did when preparation of those facts was made.
The significance of this exercise, ladies and gentlemen, is to utilise a manner of truth extrapolation which enforcers of the law who are chosen to investigate claims made under oath to speak the truth operate to better determine veracity of facts provided them. It has been proven effective, and, as Marion Jones has shown a propensity to utilise methods enforced by law officials to verify truths, it should so be carried out.
Establishing truth in that matter will uncover compelling evidence which demonstrates that Marion Jones did have – and used – motive, means and opportunity available to sweep a positive drug test under the rug, and, in so doing, to mask that deception by participating in – or allowing – leaking of those details to cover up her misdeeds.
Those misdeeds, recall, are a long period of performance-enhancing drug use which had previously been called to light, but had never been captured as such until the 18th day of August, 2006.
Inasmuch as untruthful people are also able to have integrity and speak forthrightly on occasion – and sometimes do reach out in peculiar ways as to reveal a misstated fact or omission of accuracy, one can and should trust that those who have previously testified about Marion Jones are persons fully able to reason and act with consequence to the benefit of truthfulness.
That is a fact which you must carefully consider, as said testimony provided on previous occasion in courts of arbitration have condemned – not exonerated – athletes who have made certain claims about themselves. Having been declared guilty based on the information they provided about they, themselves, you shall also carefully consider their testimonies when associating a factor of truth relevant to what they have stated about Marion Jones.
When they have had means and opportunity to make condemning remarks which would have imminently linked Marion Jones to their legal, binding testimony whilst facing their own perilous futures in arbitration courts, each witness has remained conspicuously silent on any and all matters thereof.
The chief provider of information concerning Marion Jones was outspoken on several occasions and faced a lawsuit initiated by Marion Jones’s attorneys on her behalf in an attempt to vigorously explore the possibility of his having defamed her by his statements made on television and through an internet media source. It is due to this previous drugs provider that several athletes were found guilty – both through analytical and non-analytical evidence – of using substances deemed inappropriate and illegal.
Marion Jones escaped a collision with truth and evidence when, having been issued a grant to avoid testifying in his case by means of a plea bargain, the defendant refused to help authorities solve mysteries known solely to the defendant, himself; the cornerstone of evidence available was stowed away and locked.
You now have the terrific responsibility of ascertaining if those statements he made about Marion Jones were authentic and carried with them any significant measure of weight to tie her to wrongdoing.
You will also provide Marion Jones, herself, an opportunity to be as determined to demonstrate the same amount of resolve to be as open about life as she was about concealing her athletics death – with no possibility of an afterlife. This may prove to be a tall order, nonetheless, as prompting Marion Jones to show any true remorse – not a shower of tears – in the matter can be akin to attempting to draw water from a desert weed, as in this instance:
“My life does not revolve around having to prove to anyone that I am drug free. I am probably one of the most tested athletes in the world. I have never tested positive for a steroid. The people that know me ... know I would never do anything illegal. I would never take any performance-enhancing drug. I'm not going to degrade myself to prove I'm drug free. I know I am.”
Instead, she degraded herself by changing out of her street clothes into her prison-issued Khaki clothes.
Pause for a moment, if you will, and consider this: It couldn’t be more shocking or more “degrading” for an athlete unprepared for the drugs-testing procedures to submit to those tests the first time they are required to do so. They are followed, watched and observed as they relieve urine into a bottle whilst a person of the same gender watches to ensure no substances are introduced to the specimen and ensure that the specimen content being delivered is that of the selected athlete.
One athlete, Brit Jason Gardener, the four-time European indoor 60m champion who announced his retirement in the early summer of 2007, lamented the idea of anti-doping officers’ participation in the testing process, stating:
“And I won't miss someone calling at my house and accompanying me to the toilet, standing less than a metre away and watching me provide a urine sample. I always thought that was an invasion of a human right.”
Having submitted to these tests more than 100 times, there is nothing degrading for Marion Jones as a professional athlete submitting to a process performed by a professional in collecting such samples.
She was, consequently, required whilst an active, non-retired athlete to submit to random testing procedures as agreed upon by her athletics federation, the International Olympic Committee and the world athletics governing body, IAAF.
More than that, she will be banned from the sport for taking illegal drugs.
Had she been further involved in the sport without the drugs confession, she would have been subjected to random and selected testing time and again to prove that she was not taking a drug – the same as every other athlete who is tested is obligated to substantiate.
If Marion Jones had not found the process of frequently leaving random physical specimens degrading, how would the thought of one being requested by an ascertaining body have been considered to be humiliating to establish the same facts?
The results would have proven devastating.
Alas, lest we forget, Marion Jones had a flare for being dramatic to the point of anything which called into question her moral code and values, though it be a combination of choices and associations she had previously made and been a part of which do just that, namely question her claims of being drugs-free.
You now having the means, motive and opportunity to deliberate and reach a verdict on both Marion Jones’s believability and her credibility prior to her confession and testimony. As you take thoughtful, methodical steps to consider the evidences accordingly, I would like you to consider the old biblical parable of the farmer planting his seeds, since Marion Jones is leaving it up to God to sort out her future:
The farmer, whose livelihood depends on skilful seed scattering and crop growing, toils long and hard to spread seed across four lots of property. Some of that seed falls on a path, but pigeons and other birds come and eat it; his first attempt at bringing food to his table will prove unsuccessful as that seed has no chance to spring up and bear fruit.
Having left his future to fate and nature, some of the farmer’s scattered seed will unfortunately be strewn across stony places – which, having no depth to the soil and no cover from the sun, will be parched by the sun’s harsh overhead heat and dies.
Having hope that scattering seeds would grow a crop which would yield food and draw cash for subsistence – but not having any control over where the seed ultimately landed, the farmer would regrettably discover that some seeds consequently tumbled into un-ploughed areas which were unprepared for harvesting with the existing vegetation crowding out the plants and causing them not to grow.
However, given his experience as a farmer – whose life and pursuit of basic needs is reliant on his ability to farm – he knows some seed will fall where he wants it to go, namely to the fertile soil – where they will grow, produce a lively crop and put food on his table until the next season.
Let’s make this practical to your experience here as members of this public discussion.
You, dear friends, are meant to be a representation of the various types of soils, and the seed is reserved to be the message you have been provided to impart knowledge to reason, reason to understanding, understanding to action, action to closure.
The seeds – or impartations of knowledge – in the first three instances in the parable represented information provided to jury members who were given direction but lacked hearing and understanding – people who had made certain determinations in their minds prior to allowing evidences to come into play – being partial rather than impartial in their judgments. They also represented persons who were unable to translate those words of testimony into practical application, and were unable to receive those instructions with all readiness.
Those seeds, as you know, bore no fruit for the farmer.
Now I, believing that you are rational people who, having withstood the duration of this dialogue, are keenly aware of the previous issues at hand sans Marion Jones’s confession – unlike those who would rather have had you hardened to the sum of the truths spoken and softened to the half-truths delivered to conform to a point, also have a willingness to listen and a desire to learn how the facts in this case stacked up against what Marion Jones had stated and what those who had spoken out against her had issued as far as decrees. I don’t believe you would have been allowing yourselves to be susceptible to deceptive speak-talk from Marion Jones nor from me as your guide through this maze of influence.
Consequently, nevertheless, I implore you – having been equipped to carry out such a vital task – to take with great responsibility the burden of toiling in your fields in order to allow fruit to be borne. Take action as you conclude deliberating within yourselves to turn over the soil as it were, and allow new seeds in the sport to grow in place of the withered weeds which, if they were to have continued to root deeper into the garden of athletics life, would have choked and rotted life out of all else in its field.
You face a challenge of uprooting – digging out – the choking, wild vegetation which resembled Marion Jones in the sport, and removing with it all records of note; all recorded times and distances; all marks and placing; all medals won outside of the statute of limitations; and all remnants which remain of Marion Jones planted into the sport as a wild weed by way of abuse of performance-enhancing substances. The issue that presents itself is what amount of punishment is sufficient, but not greater than necessary, to impose a just sentence in Marion Jones’s case. Reaching your agreed-upon conclusion may cause inconvenience insofar as you may hold an unpopular viewpoint, though in light of her confession (and apparent lack of sincerity), you may have more support than you had counted on.
It is the power which you have – of a public with a singular opinion – which can ensure life, liberty and the pursuit of athletics achievement can be done with passion for the sport and respect for those who also wilfully partake in such endeavours in a manner and fashion which is both legal and ethical, and holds the sport in a good light.
Marion Jones is not such a person who has any respect for the sport, though she wanted you to have believed otherwise, as demonstrated pursuant to her Millrose short-sprint victory, which followed a 14-month absence for child-birth and rearing.
People truly in love with the purity of the sport don’t want Marion Jones, however. Perhaps they are in the minority – at least according to an ESPN report in 2007:
But do you see any kind of mass revolt by fans demanding a cleanup? Anyone boycotting the ballpark? Not according to attendance figures pretty much across the landscape of major sports.
We're too emotionally invested to pull out. We love the great performances too much. We want to believe in the 70-homer season, the 40-year-old Olympic swimmer, the world-record sprinter. Sometimes, we want to believe it too much.
Marion Jones-Thompson, a married woman, has moved on with life and, following her penal code issues – including prison and probation, will follow the pursuit of her goals outside of the track stadium. She will attempt to turn over her own new leaf with her husband, their infant child and her previous one from Tim Montgomery, but she will first reap in prison what she sowed far away in
This series hasn’t been about the movement of Marion Jones-Thompson, nor is it about the private steps she, as a non-athlete, has decided to take much the same as with the end of her previous existence – alone and secluded.
Marion Lois Jones the athlete, however, had a passion for winning, but did not have a respect for self, for others or for the sport which provided her a platform upon which to seize the opportunity to vigorously – yet legally – pursue those winning achievements against her desired goals. That Ms. Jones, ladies and gentlemen, did wilfully and deliberately make conscious choices to cheat the sport of athletics, of which the nature and circumstances of her offenses require a public-opinion sentence imposed that reflects the seriousness of her misconduct and promote respect for the law which governs her sport.
Based on the foregoing, I trust that you, the fans of this sport who have also stood by throughout the course of this manuscript, having been led to it by your unending support of the sport of athletics through continued engagement of activities and participation – having respect for the principles of fair competition and of the laws which govern the application of those principles – will agree that a term of lifetime exile from this sport’s esteemed places – with all of its rewards and adulation – will be sufficient but not greater than necessary to end the rain of deceit and cover-up of those actions by Marion Lois Jones, a former Olympic and World Champion who achieved these distinctions by method of fraud.
Gail Devers, the
“My first thought was to say a prayer for her and her family and whatever she is going through. That's all we can do is pray. I am not the judge or jury,” Devers said. “All I ask is that she asks God for forgiveness and that her family and particularly her son will be shielded from any harm.”
Paul Doyle, Asafa Powell’s agent, was less than forgiving on the matter, believing much harsher penalties should await Marion Jones.
“I think personally athletes should be going to jail if they knowingly cheat. It is fraud, and sport is a big business now, and if you commit fraud in business, you should go to jail. I think honestly the only way we can deter young, upcoming kids who think drugs is the only way to be successful is if we can get really harsh and have jail time.”
I by no means am casting the first stone at Marion Jones, nor the second or the third... or any for that matter. I realise completely that none of us is perfect in word or deed. Moreover, despite what injustice one may perceive that Marion Jones has committed against them, her athletics governing body, the international body governing them and the anti-doping folks really are virtually the only ones who own the right to take aim at her athletics career.
And, they have chopped hard against the grain of cheating which had been Marion Jones’s career.
My personal wish has been for enough people to gather small pebbles and create a cloud of dust, to provide Marion Jones the point to take a long hike back into the wilderness and simply disappear into the night away from the sport in any capacity forever. Her records from 2000-September-1 onward – including 24 of her sub-11 second 100m performances – have been annulled, providing a great doorway for her to move on through.
Then again, in being prejudiced on this topic, I am not one for much wishful thinking. Somehow, Marion Jones will never simply go away.
That is good news for the IAAF, which hopes to bank on the account of improprieties Marion Jones has stashed now that she has been released from prison.
“There is a lot of sadness for Marion and her family.
“Six months in prison is a lot, but you do hope that it will be a deterrent to others.
“Hopefully when she is out of prison she can help the IAAF and other organisations to ensure that other people don't follow the path that she certainly followed.
Lauryn Williams, whose agent spoke vehemently about Marion Jones as quoted earlier in the book, hopes Marion Jones also can contribute something positive back to the sport. Perhaps Marion Jones can find it in her calloused heart to give graciously and freely of herself in order to provide positive change and direction for the many thousands of children, teens and even young adults who were waiting on her every race with great anticipation.
Said Williams on her WCSN.com blog:
“Why I believe her situation is unfortunate is because she has created a life outside of track and field. And that life consists of two children and a new husband. Her children, will have a period in their life w/o a mother due to the decisions she’s made in the past and/or the people she chose to associate herself with. That is unfair to them.
So now maybe u can understand ‘unfortunate’ because now her past has caught up to her present and will effect not only her future but her children’s future.”
I asked this question before I met her in 2004. What did she contribute to our sport so far? I saw plenty of commercials and interviews but I have never heard about anyone saying that
It is 2007, and I still wonder what other than run fast did she do to improve the sport for everyone??
I hope and trust that you tend to agree, and will shun away any such attempts from Marion Jones should she ever decide to tell all just for the money.
Everything she has done from 1997 onward with respect to track and field has been about the money. It would be wiser counsel to have her simply escape into yonder to raise her two children and attempt to be a good wife... now that her prison sentence has concluded.
Then, and only then, can she follow her dreams and wishes to tell her children the story about the life and times of a woman who twice lied and wasn’t home to put them to sleep.
“My passion in life has always been my family,” Jones said.
“I know the day is quickly approaching when my boys ask me about these current events. I intend to be honest and forthright ... and guide them into not making the same mistakes.”
“As everyone can imagine, I'm very disappointed.
“But as I stood in front of all of you for years in victory, I stand in front of you today. I stand for what is right.
Those were truly costly mistakes, and, unfortunately ones to which she still has not completely erased by virtue of withholding important information from the beginning stage of her career.
And of Victor Conte, whose connections to Marion Jones have been both for better and for worse?
“I feel very sad for Marion and her family.
“There is no doubt in my mind that she has learned gigantic lessons.
“Hopefully, she will be able to serve as an example to others and help them to make good decisions.”
“I certainly don't condone her repeated lies, but I do feel especially bad for
Marion Jones-Thompson will have time to change her course and add back to society whilst performing a number of community-service hours – 800 to be exact – 400 for each of the two years of probation she will be on now following her incarceration’s completion date. Judge Karas, who spared her a fine due to her stated lack of money, recommended that Marion Jones-Thompson work with the USOC and USATF to educate children and school-age athletes about the importance of competing without cheating.
According to Karas, Marion Jones’s involvement with children would “take advantage of Ms. Jones-Thompson’s eloquence, strength and her ability to work with kids,” and would teach children that “it’s wrong to cheat and to lie about the cheating.”
Six months of confinement in the detention centre should have provided Marion Jones-Thompson some reading time and many an hour to contemplate her future steps in life. They should have also provided her time to read about the Federal government laying into Graham and associates in his Federal trial – one which she was on standby as a witness.
If she has learned her lesson in this case – one which ends with her forced to spend time away from two sons – one of whom is still nursing, she will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help her God. If she has decided to take criminal advice from inmates whose own strokes of luck didn't help – rather hurt – their short- and medium-term free movements and ability to choose when they want to arise and go to bed, she'll land in an even bigger mess with harsher consequence and an upgraded prison facility with higher walls and an extra set of razor-wired fence the next time a trial of any significance comes her direction.
The choice is now Marion Jones-Thompson's to make. She, wanting to be a catalyst to help others, must start off by being truthful to herself. Once she has her inner-demons figured out - those which bring out the sociopathic tendencies in her - she can seek advice to begin changing her ways. She's been in prison - a place where lies, lies and more lies have gotten a majority of the women in there, and where lies, lies and more lies rule the inner walls where it is challenging to trust your neighbor in the two-floor dormitory setting which houses the 1.000 women there.
If she has made good use of her time in helping others help themselves, Marion Jones-Thompson may find that honesty really is the best policy to ensure she has a decent shot at a good future and can be a respectable member of society who works for a living and pulls her own weight legally, lawfully and respectfully.
Carswell Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas would have allowed Marion Jones-Thompson to use her college degree within the prison walls had she spent any considerable time at the prison. Though a communication specialist, she could have been granted an opportunity through the prison system to tutor and mentor women who are working toward earning their GED certificates; her short, six-month stay will keep her on simpler duties, however.
Notwithstanding, she will have witnessed no greater truth than observing the varying levels of education women in the facility will possess as she interacted with them – from describing a chore to asking to have the salt passed across the chow table. There is little wiggle room for a person behind on math or without a good grasp of the English language to fake their way to a passing score.
The women with whom she interacted – each with a specific inmate number and offense committed against the government, just like Marion Jones – were on her level, not beneath it. To some she will have wished to have been invisible. To others, she may have befriended on cordial terms – especially the three women with whom she will share a living quarters; room inspections occur five times weekly as well as a unit inspection. Marion Jones was responsible for her room. Teamwork – something Marion Jones has previously taken for granted for her own gain – will have come in handy at
The important lesson she will have needed to learn on the prison premises is that lying – misstating the truth – can – and often does – have disastrous consequences, as rules behind the walls are often harsher than rules on the outside – even if those walls are erected around minimum-security facility.
Marion Jones-Thompson had an opportunity to make a difference to these women in food-service job (dish detail or a cooking duty), and by doing so, to start making a difference to herself. It can provide an excellent platform for her – an individual who needed time away from being in the centre of attention with a captive audience.
Her alternative was to work on the compound landscaping, scrubbing washroom walls, showers and toilets depending on what availability the prison, listed on the Federal bureau of prisons, as being approximately 10 inmates short of capacity, has available.
Her postal codes changed significantly over the past year, as she occupied space in a building located at Carswell Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas – a facility located more than 100 miles from her home, and, subsequently in the half-way house where she spent her final two weeks before being released. Perhaps moving from her castle to shantytown to the slums – where writings on the walls tell stories of worry, frustration and a longing to be free will lbe the liberation Marion Jones needed.
Then again, as time has shown on more than one occasion, it may only turn her resolve to maintain her inner strength ever the more powerful resulting in hardness and another facade under which to live, hide and escape when the pressures mount. She appeared on Oprah in late October to be the same person she was prior to entering the penal system: a calculating liar.
She had two months to prepare herself for entry into the penal system and her boot camp. She's had six additional months to figure out what to do with the rest of her life as well as the two years and 800 hours to commit to a plan to give back to the sport from which she robbed.
Until such time that her Department of Corrections obligations are satisfied, she can practice playing the children's game “Truth or Dare?” with her eldest son and see how many times she can pick the former, rather than the latter. She has more than her tattered and permanently damaged reputation on the line.
And so it was, and shall always be, important to tell the truth one word at a time in order to avoid daring anyone else to sue, to judge or to throw away they key for any period of time, however great or small.
 San Francisco Chronicle, “Marion Jones isn’t running ... steroid controversy”, 2004-05-14  The Evening Standard, “Gardener Dig At the Cheats as He Hangs Up Spikes,” 2007-08-03  New York Daily News, “Marion Jones back on track at the Millrose Games,” 2004-02-09
 ESPN.com, “Forde: We love ’em and can’t leave ‘em”, 2007-08-09
 LA Daily News, “Track star Marion Jones admits lying about use of banned drugs,” 2007-10-06
 International Herald Tribune, “Marion Jones makes right decision, but truth comes too late”, 2007-10-09
 The Guardian, “Officials hope Jones sentence will be deterrent”, 2008-01-11
 WCSN.com – Lauryn Williams Blog Entry, “Thoughts on Jones”, 2007-10-09
 Sportinglife.com, “Jones Hopes Prison Sentence Is A Lesson To All,” 2008-01-11
 BBC Sport, “Jones punishment is fair – Lewis”, 2008-01-11
 MSNBC, “Marion Jones sentenced to 6 months in prison,” 2008-01-11