An athlete bent on using drugs to cheat will stop at nothing to win: he will squirm through loopholes, she will sprint through logic, and they will attempt to lean ahead of testers when the finish line draws near - or the drug cycle is over.
They are becoming more adept at playing both sides of the predator and prey game as well.
The cheater's meal ticket is punched in the form of opulent payouts and appearance fees in rich meets sprinkled here across the continent of Europe. These organisers, the public gathered there to watch along with the non-suspecting, non-doped competitors are called the prey.
The cheater is hunted by three particular alphabet soup organisations bearing the acronyms WADA, IAAF and USADA - organisations which have a united purpose to stamp out illegal drug use in an effort to provide clean sport among its initiatives.
Athletes pursue their targets by any means deemed necessary - even if that sometimes means leaving tracks in the sand for those following with vials, notebooks and chain of custody numbers to close in and strike at random.
Athletes who succeed at deception find themselves enabled to gain an unfair, illegal and unjust advantage over their competitors. They also hoodwink meet organisers who have bills to pay, fans who occupy expensive seats in the prime sections of the stadiums and corporate sponsors eager to get a prime return on their advertising investments.
WARNING: KEEP OUT
Anti-doping officials who are able to catch a lucky break are able to keep a cheat or two off the streets for a couple of years - or down a lane in the centre of a track near you if that imagery fits you better.
More importantly in their eyes, they're able to provide a semblance of cleanliness the sport's image has suffered to regain following BALCO, Marion Jones, stolen world records, tainted victories and lies, lies and more lies.
The highest anti-doping body organisation in the world along with track and field's governing officials are attempting to bring the spirit of true competition and cleanliness back into the sport of track and field, and welcome any legal, beneficial and binding way to reach their goals of making track and field safe and clean for the competitors and pure for the spectactors.
One can reason that they are attempting to meet this objective by any means possible.
They have found allies with European meet organisers who have signed a pact to keep cheats out of their venues, and certain national governing bodies like UK Athletics have prohibited convicted drug cheaters from participating for their country in the Olympic Games - the pinnacle of a professional athlete's aspirations.
The Euromeetings group, whose members conduct 51 track-and-field meets here on the European circuit, have also made a pact to refuse entry to current or future athletes convicted of serious doping violations -- those whose violations require a two- or more year banishment.
Keeping drug cheats out of elite, world-class competitions where money and fortune is at stake seems like a good idea on the surface, because athletes who cheated had previously been dishonest and collected money under false pretenses, and there's nothing written in the moral code of life which states they wouldn't do it again at the first opportunity afforded them.
This is an issue of trust which is difficult for a convicted athlete to regain once they have been inked on to the blacklist the organisers by resources within their circle of influence - including by track agents whose own athletes may miss out on valuable lane draws and Grand Prix points if a cheat is inadvertently allowed to compete.
There are athletes who have unknowingly injested products with a banned substances and have been penalised one or two years for their offences. Such athletes won't be bound together with the dirty lot who have made concerted efforts to swindle the sport and rob it of its integrity.
Just this week, Susan Chepkemei, a four-time IAAF World Half-Marathon medalist, was sanctioned for a doping violation for Salbutamol, a medication commonly prescribed for breathing problems -- usually asthma.
Chepkemei will sit out a year of competition due to the IAAF's strict liability rule which binds all athletes who are competing under its jurisdiction - or have the intention of doing so - to be held accountable for all substances in their bodies.
Chepkemei's case is one of bad luck, as the three-time half-marathon silver medallist was prescribed a medication at a hospital by a licensed doctor; she didn't demonstrate an intention to foul out of the game of track and field this season.
RETURNING BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY
Other athletes like British sprinter Dwain Chambers (photo above) and former Stanford University graduate Chryste Gaines, however, have made attempts in their careers to lure and mislead, and have been banned for steroid abuse - or suspicion of its use. They did cheat by all means possible, with those means coming in the form of drugs not detectable by conventional testing methods.
Now, several years removed from the disgraceful moments when they were discovered to have lied and covered up their tracks, Chambers and Gaines want back into the game, and they're planning on using any means necessary to gain acceptance on the playground.
Chambers, who has returned to the sport following his suspension and an aborted attempt to make it big in the NFL, has faced a fury of negative opinion in his homeland this winter, with the climax reached in having had to make legal maneuvers with UK Athletics in order to run in his national indoor championships two weekends ago - a 60m final which he won.
Chambers, who, along with Gaines, was caught in the BALCO net when Victor Conte's illegal operations were raided and information about their individual involvements was brought before a United States grand jury, has been frozen out of other meets of note this winter - meets which organisers have a right to pick and choose those whom they want, rather than those they must.
Gaines, who compted in her national indoor championships in Boston at the last week-end, has also been frozen out of meets vital to a world-class athlete's pocket book and sustainability, and believes it is high time for athletes on the rebound from drug offences to sue in order to be able to return to the track and carry on their jobs as she aptly put it earlier this week.
"Because we were affiliated with Balco we have this whole different stigma attached to us," Gaines told the BBC (link). "We're being treated differently. We're asked to serve a lifetime ban."
Actually, Gaines and Chambers have left a lifetime taint and stain on the sport as far as many current fans and former athletes are concerned, and many - including former mile world record-holders Sebastian Coe and Steve Cram, both from Great Britain, have decried their further involvement in the sport.
SPEED MEANS PLAY?
Gaines and Chambers share common ground in three areas: they were both convicted of cheating, have both faced roadblocks in their attempted comebacks, and may each consider legal avenues in an effort to regain their footing and paychecks.
Chambers may have an easier time at pursuing his dreams as he has demonstrated that he belongs in the upper echelons, having run the seventh-fastest 60m in the world this year, 6,56 seconds indoors in Sheffield.
Gaines, who is eight years older than Chambers, showed signs of her age in Boston, and has only the 110th-fastest 60m time in the world this season.
No meeting arranger would be wise to spend money featuring a non-ranked athlete unless he or she was a national star performing in front of a home crowd in a "B"-heat competition.
Gaines may declare that her opportunities are few and far between and have thereby affected her marketability and races, but that has not been the case with Chambers, who has only raced in two meetings this indoor season - and won them both.
Whether either athlete makes an attempt to sue meeting promoters to gain entrance into events for which the organisers are solely at liberty to invite those whom they please remains to be seen.
One point I'd like to drive across is that Chambers, Gaines and every other drug cheater who has been caught has broken a set of rules which have governed behaviour and expectations placed on them by world, international and national governing bodies.
If the sport can be looked at from a business standpoint, the meeting organisers hire athletes into their meets through appearance fees in an effort to please the two groups mentioned above - the fans and the sponsors.
A responsible corporate manager takes time to have his consultants and employees screened and simply doesn't hire those who don't fit a certain criteria. Track and field meet managers don't have to be any different in their business approach as long as they accept all open applications and make their "hiring" decisions based on merit, suitability and responsibility.
If they are able to demonstrate a sensible approach to this issue, they may avoid unnecessary, time-consuming and expensive lawsuits, and may actually keep a player in this game called track and field from ever attempting to cheat if the stakes include a permanent place "outside" of the arena.
American sprinter Allyson Felix was recently named the 2007 Los Angeles Sportswoman of the Year by LA Sports Council, topping a thrilling year in which the 22-year-old won three gold medals at the IAAF World Championships and was named an ESPN ESPY award winner.
Felix, who attended Los Angeles Baptist high school and graduated from the University of Southern California last term, was honoured in January alongside of David Beckham, the men's winner at a black-tie dinner at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, CA.
“It was nice to be an athlete from an Olympic sport and get that exposure and especially to be from Los Angeles and get that recognition,” Felix stated on an online diary maintained by the International Association of Athletics Federations.
“My only disappointment was not getting to meet David Beckham, who was named Sportsman of the Year.”
Felix's golden performances, along with her incredible versatility from 100m to 400m, also made the LA Sports Council's list of Greatest Sports Moments of 2007, though Los Angeles Laker forward Kobe Bryant was eventually selected the winner.
Bryant won the award for displaying excellence on the court in leading the USA team -- which included stars such as Jason Kidd, Labron James and Carmelo Anthony -- to a 118-81 victory over Argentina in 2007 FIBA Americas Championship in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The win helped the USA complete a 10-0 tournament and qualify them for this year's Olympic Games in Beijing in August, where Felix is also expected to compete on the track in her speciality, the 200m, and both sprint relays.
Felix demonstrated an unbridled excellence in her sport last summer, winning gold medals in the 200m (21,81), 4x100m (41,98) and 4x400m (3.18,55) at the world championships -- only the second time the triple has ever been accomplished on that level.
Marion Jones, who is banned two years from the sport for steroid abuse, was the first to win three gold medals, taking the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at the 1997 World Championships in Athens.
Felix, whose 48,0 split is arguably the best one-lap carry an American woman has ever negotiated in the long relay, also managed last summer to defeat 400m star Sanya Richards at her own distance here in Stockholm, running a lifetime best 49,70 - the sixth-fastest in the world last year.
Richards had attempted to double up at the DN Galan, with the 100m contested before the 400m, but was unable to out-sprint her younger rival down the homestretch.
Richards, who, along with Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, won an equal share of the $1 million Golden League jackpot offered by the IAAF for winning each of a series of select competitions at 400m.
Felix's first senior international championships netted her a silver medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens -- running a world junior record 22,11 in finishing second to Jamaican Veronica Campbell's 22,05.
Since that defeat, Felix, whose personal best of 21,81 helped enable her to repeat as world champion last summer in Osaka, Japan, is equal to the 12th-fastest female all-time, and has collected five gold medals in the five events she has participated in at the 2005 and 2007 World Championships.
Felix has only one defeat in 20 finals dating back to 2004-August-25.
The Los Angeles Sports Council, which is one of America's leading civic sports support organizations, prides itself on its unwavering support of track and field -- a sport which has had 137 IAAF world records set in Los Angeles, the highest total of any city in the United States.
The council held a poll in 1995 to determine the 100 greatest moments of Los Angeles-area sports, with Carl Lewis was voted 24th on the list for winning four gold medals at the 1984 Olympic Games. Felix has the opportunity to conceivably run in three more Olympic Games, with a 400m/200m double a great possibility in the future.
:: Allyson Felix fact-file:
Allyson Felix was born on 1985-November-18 in Los Angeles, and is the daughter of an ordained minister.
Felix, runs for adidas and bypassed the NCAA collegiate system during her years of study at USC, where she majored in Elementary Education. She went straight to the professional levels from high school, where she was a stand-out sprinter following in the shadows of Marion Jones and Angela Williams.
Felix has run the fastest 200m time in world history for girls aged 16-19, and is on course to break into the top-10 on the all-time world list.
Felix is coached by Bobby Kersee, the husband of American- and world heptathlon world record-holder Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and utilises Renaldo Nehemiah, the former 110m hurdle world record-holder, for agent services.
Felix has personal bests of 11,01 (100m), 21,81 (200m), 36,33i (300m) and 49,70 (400m). Allyson Felix's homepage can be found at: http://www.allysonfelixusa.com
__________________________________________________2007 World Top-10 Lists In Events Which Felix Participated
10,89 (+1,0) Veronica Campbell JAM
10,90 (+2,0) Torri Edwards USA
10,95 (+2,0) Me'Lisa Barber USA
10,97 (-0,7) Sanya Richards USA
11,01 (+1,2) Allyson Felix USA
11,01 (-0,2) Lauryn Williams USA
11,02 (+0,8) Mikele Barber USA
11,02 (-0,2) Carmelita Jeter USA
11,03 (+1,0)Kerron Stewart JAM
11,04 (-0,3) Tezdzhan Naimova BUL
11,04 (-0,1) Christine Arron FRA
200m21,81 (+1,7) Allyson Felix USA
22,31 (+1,6) Rachelle Smith USA
22,31 (-0,2) Sanya Richards USA
22,32 (+0,5) Ebonie Floyd USA
22,34 (+1,7) Veronica Campbell JAM
22,38 (-1,6) Muriel Hurtis-Houairi FRA
22,41 (+1,3) Kerron Stewart JAM
22,43 (+0,7) Tezdzhan Naimova BUL
22,46 (+2,0) Lashauntea Moore USA
22,49 (+0,4) Simone Facey JAM
22,49 (-0,1) Debbie Ferguson McKenzie BAH
49,61 Christine Ohuruogu GBR
49,64 Dee Dee Trotter USA
49,65 Nicola Sanders GBR
49,66 Novlene Williams JAM
49,70 Allyson Felix USA
49,84 Natasha Hastings USA
49,93 Natalya Antyukh RUS
50,15 Ami Mbacké Thiam SEN
50,16 Ana Guevara MEX
American sprinter Latasha Jenkins, who won an appeal in December to return to athletics following a drug ban, has had her ruling challenged by the World Anti-Doping Agency according to wire reports today.
Jenkins, 30, who trained under disgraced coach Trevor Graham, tested positive for metabolites of the anabolic steroid nandrolone at the KBC Knight of Athletics in Belgium on 2006-July-22, and faced a two-year ban from the sport by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.
Jenkins, a 200m sprinter with a 22,29 personal record, had never tested positive for any illegal substances under IAAF or USADA testing custody prior to this occasion. She agreed to begin the ban on 2006-October-23 following her "B"-sample notification.
A three-person North American arbitration panel ruled on 2008-January-25 against USADA on a technicality, exonerating Jenkins due to both European labs (Ghent, Belgium and Köln ("Cologn", Germany) -- which conducted the sample tests -- having violated international requirements that the tests be run by two different technicians.
USADA is the independent anti-doping agency for Olympic related sport in the United States. It was created as the result of recommendations made by the United States Olympic Committee's Select Task Force on Externalization to uphold the Olympic ideal of fair play, and to represent the interests of Olympic, Pan American Games, and Paralympic athletes.
This was USADA's first arbitration loss against 35 victories since the United States Olympic Committee created it eight years ago.
Jenkins has not escaped the issue of how the nandrolone entered her body, however, and it is a fact which WADA, the world's anti-doping body with higher reach than USADA, appears ready to have further considered with CAS - the binding decision-makers of arbitration cases in sport.
Jenkins had her findings set aside, because of the testing violations and USADA's inability to demonstrate that the breaches did not undermine the validity of the test results.
USADA had maintained that the Cologne laboratory's collaboration of Ghent's findings was strong evidence of a doping violation, but the panel was not satisfied insofar as both laboratories committed protocol violations in their discovery work.
According to Jenkins' attorney Michael Straubel, the lab in Ghent analyzed the sample with gas chromatograph/mass spectrometry, the basic method of finding steroids.
The Cologne performed a carbon isotope ratio analysis, used to determine whether the substance involved is naturally occurring in the body or from an external source.
At issue was that officials at both laboratories violated specific sections of the International Standard for Laboratories which would ensure that different people would carry out parts of the test which measure quantitative measures. The same analyst at the Ghent laboratory handled the "A"- and "B"-samples, and, moreover, the same condition occured at the Cologne laboratory.
Asked following the exoneration why both labs would have made the same mistake in using only one technician, Straubel said, "They thought the rule was unnecessary and they complied with it in what proved to be an inadequate way."
The nandrolone was initially discovered eight days after Jenkins' 125ml urine sample was express-shipped from the collection spot at the meet to the WADA-accredited laboratory in Ghent - a time frame within the universal protocols set in place.
The IAAF, who were immediately alerted of the positive "A"-sample analysis, requested the the reserved portions of the "A"-sample be tested as soon as possible, with the WADA-approved laboratory in Köln, Germany (the "Cologne" facility) to retest and perform an analysis.
The Cologne laboratory discovered a similar finding, and alerted IAAF on 2006-August-8 that Jenkins' values of norandrosterone indicated an application of nandrolone and nandrolone pro-hormones.
Six weeks following the "A" test, the Ghent facility performed analysis on Jenkins' "B"-sample, concluding after the three separate analyses done that Jenkins' urine did contain Norandrosterone which clearly crossed the "positive" threshhold.
Straubel expressed shock and concern that the case had been appealed, believing that the errors were of grave nature, and the exoneration mandatory.
Experts on hand during the American arbitration stated that had Jenkins' sample been tampered with at the Ghent laboratory during the derivitization stage, it would not have triggered a positive, adverse finding, because the urine at the Cologne laboratory came from a separate bottle, and preceded the Ghent testing.
Jenkins, who has not competed since being exonerated by the American panel, is one of 11 track and field athletes under Graham's guidance who have tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
Graham, who is due to stand trial in United States Federal court in June for obstruction of justice charges stemming from an allegation he made false statements to investigators in the year-old BALCO scandal, has maintained that he has had no knowledge of any of his athletes using steroids - a claim which Marion Jones called into question when she confessed last October to using drugs Graham provided her.
Trevor Graham-coached athletes who have been banned for steroid use:
- Michelle Collins: Banned for eight years – later reduced to four years – by a panel of members of American Arbitration Association and the North American Court of Arbitration for Sport. However, Collins was found to have used EPO, THG and a testosterone cream based on evidence collected in the BALCO investigation and presented to CAS. She reluctantly conceded her guilt after a fierce word battle with USADA. Collins surrendered her first-place finish in the 200m at the 2003 USA Indoor Championships, and also her 100m victory at the 2003 USA Outdoor Championships.
- Justin Gatlin: Proposed eight-year ban for second doping offence after testing positive for testosterone during Kansas Relays in April 2006. First offence (2001-June 16-17) was for a banned substance (an amphetamine) found in medication – a ban the IAAF reduced. Gatlin did, however, surrender his victories in the 100m, 200m and 110m hurdles at the USA Junior Championships where the positive test was discovered. Gatlin’s legal team working on “special circumstance” clause to prove Gatlin had drugs in his body without his knowledge.
- Alvin Harrison: accepted a four-year ban for drug violations, admitting to USADA accusations of him having used testosterone, THG, HGH and erythropoietin (EPO) between 2001-June-1 and 2004-October-18. He surrendered all his competitive results for this period, but not before stating that his attorney would file a lawsuit against USATF which upheld cheater Jerome Young’s doping appeal until it was overturned by CAS in June 2004.
- Calvin Harrison: Handed a two-year suspension by USADA for a second positive modafinil test, and was stripped of his 2nd-place finish in the 400m at the 2003 USA Track & Field Championships (2003-June-21). The first was a result of pseudo ephedrine usage as a junior athlete.
- C.J. Hunter: Banned for two years in 2001 after his announced retirement in 2000. Failed four tests for nandrolone in the summer leading up to the Sydney Olympics.
- Patrick Jarrett: Banned two years in 2001 after testing positive for Stanozolol at his national championships.
- LaTasha Jenkins: Tested positive for metabolites of the anabolic steroid nandrolone. Faced a two-year ban. A three-person North American arbitration panel ruled against USADA on a technicality, exonerating Jenkins due to both European labs (Ghent, Belgium and Cologne, Germany) which conducted the sample tests violated international requirements that the tests be run by two different technicians. WADA filed an appeal on the case to CAS on 2008-February-19.
- Marion Jones: Accused of taking EPO based on an “A”-sample test conducted in June, 2006. “B”-sample findings exonerated Marion Jones based on the discrepancy between the “A”- and “B”-samples.
- Marion Jones: Confessed in October 2007 of having taken drugs under Graham’s watch, with Graham having provided her drugs without her knowledge starting in September 2000.
- Dennis Mitchell: Suspended two years by a three-member IAAF panel which had ruled that a test of Mitchell’s urine had proved he was taking banned steroids. A United States panel had cleared him of the same charge.
- Tim Montgomery: Banned for two years without a positive test based on information released by the U.S. Senate to USADA, whereby he told the grand jury that Victor Conte gave him weekly doses of THG in 2001. He testified that he used the banned substance for eight months, part of the information of which was corroborated by information banned sprinter Kelli White provided in testimony during the BALCO investigation. Banned from 2005-June-6 to 2007-June-6 and was stripped of his world-record (9,88 seconds).
- Jerome Young: Banned for lifetime after a positive test for EPO in 2004-July-23 at a meeting in Paris. The EPO incident is not known to be related to BALCO. Young had been exonerated by the USATF Appeals Panel allowing Young to compete in the Sydney Olympics after Young had a positive test for nandrolone (1999 USA Outdoor Championships) overturned by the results of a negative test six days later, and negative tests 14 days before the positive. CAS overturned the ruling and Young surrendered all results from 1999-June-26 to 2001-June-25.
Winter in Texas can be downright bitter.
It's said that the cold weather in certain parts of the state can kick up winds which hiss like a rattlesnake uncovered from a shady spot beneath a sun-scorched rock, ready to bite you in the ass without warning if one doesn't keep an eye out and tread carefully to safety.
I've heard from an old, rugged, tobacco-spitting farmer that the harsh breeze can seep through your overalls and sting you right in the soul if you're caught with your head under the sand and are unprepared to face the elements when they come.
According to the grey-bearded man, the harsh winters have a nasty, unrelenting habit of making their way through the city of Bryan year in and year out, and punching below the belt without being called for a foul; he considers it wise counsel to wear a protective piece if one ventures through a particular stretch of real estate.
Department of Corrections Federal Inmate 84868-054, a black female, age 32, has thus far stayed protected from the cold, concrete slab floors, certain drafty rooms and from women whose attitudes methodically change from content to acrimonious when the sun moves closer toward Oceania and exchanges courses in October.
But the turn of events in this particular instance is about to change.
Federal Inmate 84868-054 has yet to check in to postal code 77805 - a facility known as FPC Bryan and stated to be on the mild side of the of the 27 Federal penal colony locations the U.S. Department of Justice has to offer the 200,931 federal guests in its current system.
This particular future prisoner is currently on free foot the next 13 days to roam the streets for toy stores, department stores, and shopping malls to find gifts to lavish on her children—both boys—to ensure they have the proper attire to stay warm for their weekend visits during their journey from some 108 miles away.
The morning after her shopping spree ends and the lights dim, she will awaken on March 11 and check herself into prison where she'll spend the next six months housed with 952 other women who have broken U.S. Federal laws and have received their fair, just, and equal reward for their efforts.
The acronym FPC aptly stands for Federal Prison Camp, and Federal Inmate 84868-054, currently known outside of the block as Marion Jones, has exactly two weeks from today to make a beeline straight from the comfort of her Austin home to the daycare center, which, incidentally, also covers for a night shelter for the shackled, to which she has been ordered to serve six months of mopping floors, dumping bins, and playing nice for the justice system.
There may be a hundred chores to accomplish in the next 14 days, but Marion Jones's main concern will be ensuring her husband knows how to feed the kids, wash their clothes and check the eldest one's schoolwork before the television is turned on and the cartoons fill the emptiness left when the mother's voice is gone.
Obadele O. Thompson, who hails from the Bahamas, will need to transform from a really fast sprinter to a foster mother to ensure that the youngest boy, an infant, doesn't starve needlessly or take on a case of rash on his butt whilst his mom is gone.
He'll also need to look after Tim Montgomery's boy, too, as he also sets course this spring for his own date with the United States penal system and will be unable to provide the slightest bit of monetary or personal assistance to the man who married his old girlfriend, a woman who once won five Olympic medals at the same Games by means of deception and fraud.
Marion Jones will trade in her fine linens for khaki-coloured standard prison-issued ones, and will begin to serve the United States of America rather than be served by Nike and athletics organisers from around the globe who once lavished upon her all-expenses paid trips to a stadium near you in an effort to see her run.
Marion Jones has 14 days to get her life together, her nerves under wraps, and her attitude adjusted as she enters into a phase of her life once possibly imagined but never believed when she weighed the risks of taking performance-enhancing drugs and making money by deceptive and illegal methods.
Due to her many staunch and vociferous denials of having had any connection at all to drugs, it is likely Marion Jones never believed it plausible that she would be fingerprinted, photo identified, badged, and locked away from her family and a life of luxury.
Borrowing from a line in the 80's spaghetti western, "Lone Wolf McQuade," the following statement fits Marion Jones's life to the bill: "My kind of trouble doesn't take vacations."
Marion Jones's kind of troubles haven't taken a holiday, either, forcing the financially-strapped former athlete, who has played shamed victim to Oprah and the world, to take a rest from the people, places, and things to which she has associated herself for good and bad since she stepped on the road to stardom—make that infamy—11 years ago.
The just payment requested of Marion Jones for her sins against the U.S. government will begin paying dividends in two weeks' time when she's forced to take a time-out from a once prosperous life she had borrowed but had not created.
Marion Jones, who has been married just over a year, has remnants remaining from a past filled with lies, lies and more lies, and has two weeks to come to grips with the fact that truth-telling in larger portions just may do her more good than harm.
She'll be spared the harsh, bitter, chilling, wintry months many women there have already been forced to endure, but her graduation from the police house to the courthouse to the Federal house will be a cold shock, nonetheless, one which the government actually hopes will bite her soul and help prepare her for any future storms she may face in her life.
They government calls it rehabilitation.
Opponents call it a waste of time and tax-payer money.
Some even call it unjust.
Marion Jones called it fair, though the wording appeared to have come from a select script she had waiting for such a moment in time.
Time is on Marion Jones's side, really.
She has two whole weeks to call friends, meet with family and hold her children dearly. She also has time for all the fun legal work like transferring bill payments from her account into her husband's, and setting up a special guest list of people who can make the two hour, one minute trip every Saturday and Sunday from Austin to see Marion Jones conduct sprinting clinics around the prison's exercise track.
Marion Jones also has time to make complete amends with the public as she sees the harsh reality of the consequences of consciously making bad decisions. You may find yourself waiting the rest of your natural lives on that one, but first thing's first.
Marion Jones is about to enter prison, and one hopes her taste buds have already began to make the transition between steak and stew.
She has two weeks to adjust to strict waking hours, standard sleeping hours, and, most importantly, an absolute and unequivocal prohibition of going anywhere she sees fit any time she has the urge.
Prison number 84868-054 has been reserved for Marion Jones, and a bed in a four-woman living quarters has been approved for her use at FPC Bryan.
Fourteen days of freedom remain for a woman who has left a lifetime of wounds on a sport craving positive public attention.
The six months of time following her next phase will conclude on or around September 11th, 2008, a date Marion Jones already shares with history by gracing the cover of Time Magazine on that date one year before terrorists struck the United States.
Marion Jones's release shouldn't gather much news as presidential hopefuls steal the viewing public's time and energy away from a dead story and capitalize on fears both perceived and real.
Six months is a long time from now, however, and journalists will flock outside of the minimum-security prison in two weeks to snap photos, take statements and scurry about to break the news first, namely that Marion Jones is actually in jail.
I just hope that I don't have to learn first on BBC News or any other cable channel that Marion Jones has jumped ship or was delinquent in reporting, because my tickets to my next holiday destination are non-refundable.
Sweden's Stefan Holm, the reigning Olympic high jump champion, won his 11th national indoor title on Sunday in Malmö by jumping 2.37m. The mark ties him with Russian André Silnov for this year’s second best in the world. This is the 21st national high jump title of Holm’s illustrious career.
Linus Thörnblad played second-fiddle to Holm but appeared to find his form, heading into the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Valencia in two weeks. He finished second with a best of 2.35m.
Thörnblad was coming off Thursday’s subpar performance at GE Galan, where he managed only a fifth place finish with a jump of 2.26m—12cm below his personal best.
After 13 years in the spotlight, Holm is bidding farewell to the sport at age 31. His career includes 10 consecutive outdoor and eight consecutive indoor seasons, in which he has jumped no less than 2.30m. Holm is now enjoying perhaps his best season ever, winning his fourth straight competition—the sixth in seven attempts.
Holm's lowest jump this season occurred in Dresden, Germany where he jumped 2.30m - a mark which netted him a victory.
He has now cleared 2.30m 120 times in his career— increasing by one the Swedish record he set on Thursday in Stockholm. Former world record holder Patrik Sjöberg, the current Swedish indoor and outdoor national record holder, had previously achieved this record (118).
The Holm-Thörnblad rivalry netted the duo a one-two finish at last year's European Indoor Championships and brought a much-anticipated clash to the sell-out crowd huddled in the Malmö Athleticum facility. This matchup followed the previous year's national championships in Göteborg in which both athletes cleared world-leading 2.38m, with Holm the victor on countback.
This year's event had all the markings of a championship meet. Both athletes brimmed with confidence, neither showing signs of acquiescing under pressure.
Holm had a fantastic series, with first-attempt clearances at all of his heights from 2.17m to 2.35m—or seven straight jumps. Holm's last competition of a similar nature—where he had been foul-free through 2.35m—was at the 2004 World Indoor Championships in Budapest, Hungary. He won with 2.35m.
Holm's first failure of the evening came when he attempted to maneuver a height 2.37m above the ground—a height he had cleared just four other times in his career.
According to his website scholm.com, he hit the bar a little too hard with his hamstring, though the first attempt itself was not a bad one technically. Holm’s first miss of the competition, however, gave Thörnblad his first opportunity to take the lead.
Thörnblad had a very close first attempt at 2.37m, but was unable to snatch the lead from Holm. On his second attempt, Holm hit the bar but watched it remain on the uprights for a clearance.
Sensing that Holm was on his way to a superb day, Thörnblad fouled his second of three attempts. He settled for saving his last attempt for 2.39m. This mark, incidentally, would have bettered Russian Yaroslav Rybakov's world lead by one centimeter.
Holm stated that he wasn't particularly interested in making attempts at 2.39m. Still, he was forced to make an effort there as Thörnblad—who missed his one reserve try there—could have taken the lead. This would have forced Holm either to clear this height or take attempts at his personal best of 2.40m.
Holm, jumping first, had his poorest jump of the day with his first attempt. He became a lock for the gold medal, however, when Thörnblad missed his try.
The Kils AIK star out of Karlstad had the bar raised to 2.41m—a height he has never before cleared.
The three-time world indoor gold medalist (2001, 2003, 2004) was unable to manage a successful navigation at this level, though he had the height up to the bar on both attempts.
Holm called this one of his better competition days. He hopes the feeling he had in Malmö carries over to Weinheim on Wednesday, and against his Russian rivals in Valencia the following week.
Holm, speaking to tabloid newspaper Expressen, stated that the field in Valencia would be tough.
"Very many have the capacity to jump 2.35m," he said. "There are many who can either disappear in the qualification round, or just as well go to the final."
"Someone is going to jump 2.40m," he prognosticated.
Thörnblad has now cleared 2.30m in five of his seven competitions this season, and moved to sole possession of fifth in the world. He also had two victories and three runner-up indoor finishes this year.
Swedish National Indoor Championships
Malmö, Sunday 2008-February-24
Men's High Jump Results:
M Höjdhopp Final söndag
|1||Stefan Holm||76||Kils AIK||2,37|| |
|2||Linus Thörnblad||85||Malmö AI||2,35|| |
|3||Mehdi Alkhatib||87||SoIK Hellas||2,15|| |
|4||Christian Norstedt||83||Råby-Rekarne FI||2,11|| |
|5||Martin Eriksson||83||Örgryte IS||2,09|| |
|6||Richard Huldén||86||IF Göta||2,01|| |
|7||Daniel Lennartsson||88||IFK Växjö||1,97|| |
|7||Oskar Rybo||89||IF Kville||1,97|| |
|9||Markus Nilsson||89||Malmö AI||1,97|| |
|9||Christoffer Holmström||88||FI Kalmarsund||1,97|| |
|11||Mattias Green||88||IFK Trelleborg||1,97|| |
|12||Joel Thorén||87||Hässelby SK||1,97|| |
Full results here
World's top-10 indoor high jumpers 2008:
2,38m Yaroslav Rybakov RUS
2,37m Andrey Silnov RUS
2,37m Stefan Holm SWE
2,36m Ivan Ukhov RUS
2,36m Andrey Tereshin RUS
2,35m Linus Thörnblad SWE
2,33m Aleksey Dmitrik RUS
2,32m Jesse Williams USA
2,32m Kyriakos Ioannou CYP
2,30m Eike Onnen GER
Sweden's Emma Green won her first national high jump title on Saturday in Malmö, jumping 1,98m for the sixth-best mark in the world this season.
Green improved her personal best indoors by two centimetres, and jumped one centimetre higher than her lifetime best of 1,97m set at the 2005 IAAF World Championships in Helsinki, where she took home the bronze medal.
Green spoke with Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet following her victory, stating that she had been stable at just about the 1,90m - and a bit higher, so her winning mark on Saturday was finally worth the wait.
"I've now taken a step toward higher heights," she said.
Green had a great third-attempt at 2,00m, and, with a few minor adjustments and another day such as this where she was beaming with confidence, Green may break through that dream barrier.
Green's competition had bowed out by the time Green entered the competition at 1,83m - a height Green cleared on her first attempt. She continued first-attempt clearances through to her season's best height of 1,95m.
Green's first attempt at her new personal best was marginally good, but she found the bar on her second and cleared her lifetime best. She then had the bar raised to 2,00m, where she missed on her three attempts - including running under the bar on the first.
"This is the second time I've jumped at this height. It definitely felt that it is there and possible that I can clear it. Two metres is a dream barrier that one wants to clear - a big goal. It is perhaps a mental block, but also an inspirational goal."
Croat Blanka Vlasic, who has 20-meet win-streak and has cleared 2,00m 27 times in her career, has the highest mark in the world this season at 2,04m.
Vlasic has jumped injured the past two meets, however, and her participation in next month's IAAF World Indoor Championships in Valencia, Spain, is not a clear certainty.
Green's exposure to the magical barrier puts behind her a tumultuous past two seasons in which the 23-year-old, who is trained by her live-in boyfriend Yannick Tregaro, went from an immediate star to an athlete who appeared to have lost her confidence against the best in the world.
Green placed a surprising third in the world outdoor championships three years ago, knocking Russia's Anna Chicherova, who'd won the European Indoor title earlier that spring, into fourth.
Green was spared the limelight when Kajsa Bergqvist, returning from a nasty achilles injury, not only won the competition at 2,02m, but made three attempts at bettering Bulgarian Stefka Kostadinova's world outdoor record of 2,09m in the process.
Green was thrust partly into the spotlight, but needed time to mature both on and off the field - something she readily admits has been able to accomplish over the past two seasons.
"I feel as though I have matured as a high jumper and as a person. I have been more secure with everything around me which has nothing to do with the athletics field. I can now handle situations much better without them taking energy."
Green hopes to save her energy as she heads to Valencia in two weeks' time.
"My goal is to jump as high as possible," she said.
"Then we'll need to see how far it goes. It will take heights in excess of two metres to take a medal - absolutely. But everyone who is there has a chance, and I feel as though I haven't gotten out what I have inside of myself."
"She has the physical capability to go higher than this," Tregaro stated to Göteborgs-Posten.
JOHAN WISSMAN SET BACK BY FEVER
Johan Wissman, who on Thursday ran to a superb 400m victory at the GE Galan in Globen here in Stockholm, was grounded at his home base on Saturday and forced to withdraw from the national championships final due to a high pulse and feverish conditions according to national athletics doctor Sverker Nilsson.
Wissman, who is a strong medal favourite in Valencia, was attempting to use this weekend's meet as a strong workout and make an appearance before his fans in Malmö - only an arm's length (65km/6,5 Swedish miles) of driving from his base in Helsingborg.
He ran the fastest time (48,10) of the three 400m semi-final winners, but began to feel symptoms of sickness when he finished the race and took a rest in an office away from the field.
Wissman was entered in both the 200m and 400m - two races which would have pressed his energy reserves without sickness this weekend, as he would have only had 40 minutes of rest between events.
No athlete has ever won the 200m/400m double at the Swedish Indoor Championships.
Wissman will instead rest and attempt to recover from a series of travel and competition meetings which have taxed his sleeping patterns among other things.
"We had thought that the Swedish Indoors would be a good training weekend," said Wissman's trainer, Kenth Olsson.
Wissman was the third of our major Swedish stars to suffer either injury or cold and be unable to compete this weekend.Sanna Kallur, who set the world indoor-record in the 60m hurdles two weeks ago in Germany, elected to pull out of the championships due to feeling tired and a bit sore in her hamstrings, and Carolina Klüft, who has been battling a disc injury in her back, was knocked out of the rest of her indoor season when she suffered an injur during warm-ups at the GE Galan on Thursday.
ALHAJI JENG IMPRESSES IN VAULT
Pole vaulter Alhaji Jeng won his first competition of the season on Saturday by clearing 5,71m. Jesper Fritz finished second by clearing 5,55m.
Jeng nearly added to his own Swedish national record of 5,80m set two years ago in Donetsk - site of Yelena Isinbayeva's world record of 4,95m last week - by making a very good third attempt at 5,81m.
Though unsuccessful, the 26-year-old showed he has the capacity to clear the 5,80m barrier again, and is showing fine form as he attempts to capture gold in Valencia following the silver medal he won at the 2006 World Indoor Championships in Moscow.
Jeng was hampered by being forced to wait it out when some of his competitors entered the competition more than a metre beneath his opening height.
CHRISTIAN OLSSON RE-INJURED
Reigning Olympic champion Christian Olsson suffered another blow to his attempt at fully recovering from his injuries, discovering on 26-January that he had a hemorrhage in the scare left after an operation he had on his hamstring in October 2007.
"It is a smaller hemorrhage," he's quoted as stating in Aftonbladet.
"With rehabilitation and massage, it shouldn't be any problem. It was a little setback, but since I'm not competing indoors, I hope that the plans still work out. I'm counting on doing my first outdoor competition at the end of May or the beginning of June."
Swedish Indoor Championships
Full Results here
K Höjdhopp Final lördag
|1||Emma Green||84||Örgryte IS||1,98|| |
|2||Frida Brolin||85||Råby-Rekarne FI||1,83|| |
|3||Jenny Isgren||81||Spårvägens FK||1,83|| |
|4||Angelica Johansson||83||Örgryte IS||1,80|| |
|5||Victoria Dronsfield||91||IF Göta||1,77|| |
|5||Anna Alexson||87||Spårvägens FK||1,77|| |
|7||Sofia Kask||89||IFK Lund||1,74|| |
|8||Helena Redborg||83||Turebergs FK||1,74|| |
|9||Sandra Asplund||85||IFK Umeå||1,74|| |
|10||Ellinore Hallin||87||IFK Växjö||1,70|| |
|10||Emma Ekdahl||89||IFK Lund||1,70|| |
|12||Sandra Liljegren||91||Vittsjö GIK||1,65|| |
|13||Karin Rydh||85||Malmö AI||1,65|| |
M Stavhopp Final lördag
|1||Alhaji Jeng||81||Örgryte IS||5,70|| |
|2||Jesper Fritz||85||Malmö AI||5,55|| |
|3||Gustaf Hultgren||83||Örgryte IS||5,23|| |
|4||Fredrik Skoglund||81||Spårvägens FK||5,07|| |
|5||Joakim Norman||84||Mölndals AIK||4,95|| |
|6||Pawel Szczyrba||81||KA 2 IF||4,95|| |
|7||Deniz Mahshid||80||Örgryte IS||4,83|| |
|8||Alexander Eriksson||79||Spårvägens FK||4,65|| |
|8||Rasmus Tjärndal||85||Ullevi FK||4,65|| |
|8||Marcus Lindh||76||KA 2 IF||4,65|| |
|11||Erik Thorstensson||89||Spårvägens FK||4,65|| |
|12||Sebastian Axell||91||IK Lerum FI||4,47|| |
|13||Rasmus Olofsson||84||Hässelby SK||4,47|| |
|14||Jonathan Eklund||88||Hammarby IF||4,47|
Foto credit: Emil Malmborg