Why You Shouldn't Believe Marion Jones: Vol. 43

Story by Eric.

This is the 43rd 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.

Los Angeles County police and sheriff officers have been known to employ “sweep” tactics during the course of arresting gang activity in plagued areas in South-Central Los Angeles. Anyone caught associating with those gangs – whether overtly or inadvertently – personally undergoes the stress and discomfort of an immediate loss of freedom.

Scared kids and those with outstanding warrants are typically the first to give way, turn and head for their nearest escape route when those brave men and women wearing either blue and green uniforms arrive in droves – each bearing a powerful weapon capable of inflicting gross bodily destruction.

There is an old axiom among the Welsh which states the following:

Adversity brings knowledge, and knowledge wisdom.” [1]

One can assume seasoned officers tied to those communities know the positive effects that the power of persuasion has over the more lawful-minded caught up in peer pressures, and that kids with no real criminal connections can be scared into turning back to a more moral path.

One would hope an adult athlete named Marion Jones could have understood the principle lesson being taught here, namely that difficulty concedes enlightenment, and enlightenment prudence.

However, to the contrary, Marion Jones demonstrated characteristics of one who lacked both knowledge and understanding, as bent the principle to read:

I’ve become enlightened, through determination, on the art of making things difficult for myself.

The world’s fastest woman has been very slow in her athletics life to run from calamity – demonstrating either a serious learning deficiency previously undetectable, or illustrating just how powerfully the fortress surrounding Marion Jones had been constructed before it self-destructed in October 2007.

Considering the information provided in Marion Jones See How She Runs, the logical conclusion is the latter of the above.

Marion's capacity for learning a skill or technique, and then practicing until she had mastered it, was one she never lost, and one that never failed to impress her coaches in high school, college, and beyond. [2]

The author of that book, Ron Rapoport, had choice words to say about Marion Jones in the days following her affirmation of guilt.

Jones says those of us who admired and believed in her have a right to feel angry and betrayed, and I suppose I do, a little. Mostly, though, I just feel sad. Sad that smiling golden girl who was cheered on tracks all over the world has made such a mess of things. Sad she traded her future for two bronze medals. [3]

Marion Jones had, rather than run from a hornet’s nest – that is to say, take flight from certain misfortunes and disasters, no matter the cost – stood firm with criminals and drug associates, been rounded up, had her fingers figuratively printed and dusted, and has seemingly been unfazed by this entire process. She seemed rather attracted to the tension and excitement.

Rather than having turned away from events which could cause stress and personal discomfort, Marion Jones had, by default, either welcomed those calamities or had simply accepted that their presence is simply the way it was – and would always be – despite any attempts she may make to stave them off.

Several of Marion Jones’s peers have taken steps – almost to the point of seeming paranoia – to ensure they avoid at all costs circumstance and opportunity which can generate the slightest appearance of being associated with drugs, and have taken every possible measure – again, verging on the border of mistrust – to ensure what they ingest, with whom they associate and which foods they consume are fully known.

Kelly Holmes, Paula Radcliffe and Carolina Klüft are three who immediately come to the fore with regard to with whom they associate and to what degrees they have spoken of to avoid being unwittingly contaminated. Gatlin had also been described as going to considerable lengths to not leave foods or water unattended.

Michelle Perry, an American 100m hurdler, was warned by her mother of the dangers of being contaminated by another athlete.

That’s why when my mom heard about Justin, she called and said: ‘Don’t leave your water bottles around! Don’t drink from anything that’s been open already!’ She was scared that somebody was going to do something bad to me. [4]

Tyson Gay, when discussing the “B”-sample test which exonerated Marion Jones, stated that athletes would be wise to steer clear of bad company.

I’m sorry that maybe it was a mistake that happened. But I believe that we as athletes have to stay away from people who are affiliated with drugs and also just try to stay away from anything that could possibly test positive. [5]

What these athletes have demonstrated is they take no risks in having something unfamiliar enter their systems and associate them with the possibility of being guilty should they test positive for drugs, as the IAAF has a strict liability rule which states that whatever goes in the body is the complete responsibility of the athletes. What Marion Jones had not been concerned with was that she contaminated herself on the outside – by reputation – by associating with known cheats and drug pushers. Taking a mere position of being drug-free was not on par with taking steps to appear drug-free, and Marion Jones – through her admittance of guilt – demonstrated this fact.

The United States government would very much have considered evidence from Marion Jones’s ex-spouse when it related to her reputation, as it does consider all matters concerning personal or family history among members of a person's family by blood, adoption, or marriage, or among a person's associates, or in the community, concerning a person's birth, adoption, marriage, divorce, death, legitimacy, relationship by blood, adoption, or marriage, ancestry, or other similar fact of personal or family history admissible evidence in court.

Marion Jones, upon sensing danger not once, but on three separate occasions – two being intimate partners, and a third being a dirty coach – didn’t take flight, though she has been one of the fastest woman in the world over a period of time. It has at best taken Marion Jones 10,65 seconds to run to glory, but has taken nine years to run from it. And the clock continues on forward, one second at a time, without regard.

I suppose one reason she has been slow to run away is that the 10,65 seconds she accomplished on the track was an impaired one, so no one really has any knowledge of just how fast Marion Jones is – not even she knows.

With the passing of every moment, Marion Jones had at times stopped in her tracks, taken a moment to ponder her situation, and had been very graceless and careless in her assessments.

Nobody has ever said anything about Marion Jones using performance- enhancing drugs, and they never will. I'm not really concerned about having to clear the air over this next year. I don't feel responsibility to have to warm up anymore to the crowd or to the fans or to the media because I'm quite happy with how I stand in the public's eye.[6]

That same attitude carried over in effect with her leaked drug test and exoneration, and died with her confession of using performance-enhancing drugs.

Her statement above could now be re-read and paraphrased as such:

Many people have said things about Marion Jones using performance- enhancing drugs, and they always will. I’m not really concerned about having to clear the air over this next year – or at anytime over my life. I don’t feel responsibility to have to warm up anymore to the crowd or to the fans or to the media because I’m quite happy with how I stand in the public's eye – despite being the perpetrator of such deliberate lies to that same public.

When news spread to Marion Jones that her “B”-sample test was not adverse, she stated she was ecstatic. She maintained that she was happy the test proved she was never a drug cheat. She had never, however, mentioned an appreciation to her fans of sticking around – not during the crisis, nor after it, effectively leaving them in the dark during her time of trial.

Marion Jones has to this day maintained a focus on self, and what she is able to control. She has been able to successfully wear two faces in the absence of having any self-respect, bringing about no loss of sense of responsibility to society and those who have supported her from the outside in; she has made concerted efforts to provide an appearance of having done so, but to the watchful eye, it has been done in vain.

Marion Jones knows what image she portrays to the public – even in the face of the greatest adversity she has ever known – and to her sponsors, and her coach (now former since she has retired from the sport – that is to say been banned for two years at her age) had stated to the athletics world just how important Marion Jones was to the sport.

Marion Jones, herself, had not been shy of her marketability, and she had taken plenty of opportunity to stand in the centre, basking in the attention.

It's obvious people want to see me. I can fill up stadiums. [7]

People have watched Marion Jones’s behaviours both inside and outside of the stadium, and they are starkly and contrarily opposed to another.

Other ways Marion Jones garnered the spotlight was by having made three guest appearances on “Late Show With David Letterman” (shows #1394, #1500 and #2221), as well as Arli$ (“Giving Something Back”) and “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel (episode #28). Marion Jones really did have her share of the spotlight – one “earned” by means of deception and fraud.

Marion Jones has also been featured in a charity book, America’s Athletes (2007), of which proceeds were to be donated to American troops serving around the world. America's Athletes is a mission of the “FairPlay Foundation”, and is purposed to assist professional athletes, celebrities among others in becoming more involved and giving back to enhance the community in which they live, play and serve.

Unfavourably, the impervious force field surrounding Marion Jones was built by her willpower to succeed at all costs – controversies and image notwithstanding. Her focus on being number one – to finish races quicker than her competitors – and to jump further than any challenger – cast her judgment, intuition and reasoning skills into murky waters, and in so doing, she was snagged at the bottom by things unseen.

When The New York Times discussed with Marion Jones how well she handles defeat, she responded:

I don't handle it very well and I'm not good at dealing with the time when I'm hurt and not competing, she said. On occasion, when I don't win, I have a chance to revert to ways I don't like. And I don't like myself when I'm not winning. I'm cranky, quiet and depressed until my next competition. [8]

If she had been a victim in each and every one of her noticeable shortcomings with choosing close men associates who have cheated with drugs, she had been in error when using her incisiveness and rationality to sense problems brewing on the horizon.

Marion Jones has taken her own self-portrait to create a personal reality – one, which up until her “A”-sample positive announcement, was one over which she maintained a semblance of control. Marion Jones has blocked out distractions to such a degree, that she has virtually failed to comprehend the magnitude to which her involvement with those distractions has caused even more turbulence.

I acknowledge that a number of major scandals, my name has been associated along with them. [9]

No, Marion Jones’s name was joined at the hip of the sport’s major scandal of all time.

[1] Welsh proverb

[2] Excerpted from Marion Jones, See How She Runs, Algonquin Books © 2000

[3] The Los Angeles Times, “The dream that needlessly cost Marion Jones,” 2007-10-09

[4] The New York Times, “Gatlin’s Drug Case Puts Concerns on the (Massage) Table”, 2007-08-28

[5] Track Profile Report #560, “World Athletics Final Notebook”, 2006-09-07

[6] Marion Jones conference call with reporters, 2004-02-03

[7] The Guardian, “Jones Returns in New Role As Also-ran”, 2005-05-29

[8] The New York Times, “Husband and Bodyguard Emerges as Top Shot-Putter”, 2000-07-16

[9] Marion Jones conference call with reporters, 2004-02-03


Why You Shouldn't Believe Marion Jones: Vol. 42

Story by Eric.

This is the 42nd submission in a long series about Marion Jones, a former elite sprinter who won honour and earned endorsements, fame and fortune by method of fraud. This series continues with the Victor Conte story, one which categorically ties Marion Jones to steroids.

Though parts of this section may be historical in nature, its inclusion is relevant to the sum of the whole.

Physical, non-circumstantial evidence [1] collected at the BALCO site during a police raid adequately supported claims Conte made during the investigation regarding dissemination and distribution of performance-enhancing drugs to athletes – including Conte’s admission of providing Gatlin drugs among those bullet-pointed in volumn 41. A government official familiar with the BALCO raid verified the information about Marion Jones, and two other knowledgeable sources said they were told Marion Jones got drugs through Conte. Some of the athletes themselves – including White – had stated that they had had connections to Conte.

Conte, through an admission of his own words, stated on “20/20”:

I think she [Marion Jones] made her decision and she's going to have to be accountable to the consequences of her decision... If she said she didn't use drugs, then she lied.[2]

Marion Jones did lie, and wants to be held less accountable for her actions than she should.

Conte also had the following interaction with correspondent Bashir during that hour-long segment of “20/20”, as heard on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition, Saturday, 2004-December-4:

Bashir: “Are you saying that Marion Jones was a drugs cheat?
Conte: “Without a doubt.
Bashir: “Do you admit to devising her programme for drug use?
Conte: “Yes, I do.

And the missing link to an immediate Marion Jones inquiry?

Answer: Court testimony – that stark form of evidence which could have been obtained from Conte in the form of a solemn avowal of a declaration of fact.

Conte said in a distributed statement outside the court room after sentencing that he had decided not to talk about the athletes or their involvements in the BALCO scandal, as in most cases, the athletes were “good people, who came from good families and they’ve already suffered greatly.”[3]

Conte escaped having to testify after a plea bargain for conspiracy to distribute illegal steroids through BALCO – and for money laundering – was accepted by U.S. District Judge Susan Illston at the sentencing hearing on 2005-10-18. Conte also escaped an earlier push by USADA to have him testify before the CAS’s binding hearing over Tim Montgomery when the CAS court refused to have Conte subpoenaed. The banned drugs found were minimal, and the laundering amount was for part of a $2.100 check.

Barry Bonds’ attorney, Michael Rains, stated on Wednesday, 2006-December-13 of the transition to a “Phase III” in the BALCO case:

If this is phase three, why not indict Barry? The simple answer -- they need the testimony of Greg Anderson.”[4]

Apparently, they didn’t, as Bonds was indicted on what the U.S. government stated it had in terms of evidence that Bonds lied to the Grand Jury and failed a drug test at the BALCO laboratory.

The principle held true with Marion Jones and Victor Conte as well. There was no direct testimony from the mouth of the person who was in the know – a fact which angered Dick Pound, who stated “If we don't get a chance to pursue other allegations with his full cooperation it's a cop-out on a cosmic scale,” upon learning of Conte’s plea agreement. [5]

Conte did cop-out on not bringing the deception show which was Marion Jones on spikes, but Trevor Graham’s own legal troubles left the door open to nab Marion Jones.

Consequently, Pound and Conte were able to meet on 2007-December-12 following a Conte letter sent to WADA explaining what he believed to be wrong with today’s testing procedures and having offered tips on how to improve testing processes.

We talked about the macro and systemic problems and his perspective on that, his thoughts on how we could get better at what we do,” Pound said. “I think we'll probably stay in touch. We'll try to build up a relationship where he'll have confidence in me using the information he has in the right way. We'll try to get a better handle on what he knows directly and what he knows as having been part of an overall operation.[6]

Conte served a four-month prison sentence as register number 93388-011 at Taft Correctional Institute – a fence-less minimum-security prison located roughly 64 kilometres outside of Bakersfield, CA, and served the concurrent four-month sentence in a home-detention setting. The corrections facility has 464 beds, and is operated by the City of Taft. Conte was initially scheduled to begin his sentence at the U.S. Penitentiary in Atwater, CA with a report-to date 2005-December-1, and was released to home confinement on 2006-March-30.

The money-laundering charges carried a maximum 20-year term for Conte, the conspiracy charge a five-year stint in prison.

Conte was found guilty on 2005-October-16 of violating 21:§§846 and 841(b)(1)(D) CR-04-0044, the nature of offence which is Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess w/Intent to Distribute Anabolic Steroids – an offence which ended September 2003; and violating 18:§1956(a)(1)(A)(I) CR-05-0455, the nature of offence which is Money Laundering – an offence which ended June 2003. [7]

The manner and means by which the money laundering was carried out included concealing illegal proceeds from an unlawful activity by segregating proceeds derived from performance-enhancing drug sales from normal, regular business proceeds by placing the criminal proceeds into a personal bank account, and utilising a third-party person to negotiate checks written as payment for the purchase of the performance-enhancing drugs, rather than depositing the checks as normal business proceeds.

The manner and means by which the conspiracy to distribute and possess was carried out included intentionally misleading, defrauding and dispensing “the clear” to consumers without a valid prescription from a licensed practitioner – resulting in “the clear” being misbranded while held for sale, after shipment in interstate commerce. [8]

Conte’s plea-bargain deal included two-years probation and a fine, and the avoidance of a trial – meaning no witness testimony by – or against – Marion Jones, among others suspected in what would have been a 2005-September-6 trial date.

It also meant that Federal indictment counts 2-23, 25-28, 30-33, 36-39 against him were dismissed on the motion of the United States.

Conte was ordered to pay a $200 restitution charge – due immediately, and was penalised a $10.000 fine.

The court made special arrangements for payments to be made during his incarceration.

The United States government stated that while incarcerated, Victor Conte’s payment of his criminal monetary penalties were to be paid during his imprisonment at the rate of not less than $25.00 per quarter through the BOP Inmate Financial Responsibility Program.

There was no call on Conte to pay the cost of the prosecution. There was no two-year suspension from his work with earnings made during his illegal affairs forced to be paid back as is often the case with the athletes who were taking his drugs. There was no motion to pay for court costs, and Victor Conte did not even have to forfeit property interest to the United States.

Conte essentially skated free minus some quiet time with minor thugs, and save a criminal rap sheet. One doesn’t assume Conte will need to apply for work outside of his SNAC business anytime soon – especially if the $190.000 Bentley he owns which was parked outside of the office when the Associated Press visited him in April 2007 is any indication.

Ok, so paying the cost of monitoring at the prevailing rate, and having had to ask for advanced permission to leave his residence at all times except for activities which had been pre-approved by his probation officer – including employment, education, religious services, medical, substance abuse, or mental health treatment, attorney visits, court appearances, or court ordered obligations – couldn’t have been the most fun Conte had ever had. He was not even permitted – during the term of home confinement – to drink a Martini after a hard day’s work between reading the newspaper and watching a ballgame on TV.

And that bit about the defendant, Conte, having been required to cooperate in the collection of DNA as directed by the probation officer could have been a bit personal.

Conte, holding a golden chalice sacred to many an athlete, would win in the form of testimony – or lack of it – while opting to sit out in detention for four months in the huskow – a place which Conte said served Starbuck’s coffee, and felt like a men’s retreat. A penny fine for a millionaire, a monthly heart-to-heart with an over-worked parole officer more worried about murderers breaking parole than a money launderer, and four months of holiday in the home was the legal punishment the architect of the greatest drugs scam in history received for his misdeeds.

The first day I woke up and I walked out and saw this big sign. I looked and it said, ‘tennis,’ ‘basketball,’ ‘racquetball,’ ‘softball,’ ‘soccer,’ ‘horseshoes,’ ‘bocce ball.’ And I looked around and there's 500 guys at the camp, and it's between a mountain range out there, a very beautiful setting, and they have all these organized team sports. There’s a team over here playing soccer, a group over here playing flag football, a group over here playing softball, several tennis courts, bocce ball, volleyball, like a big recreation center, almost like a university campus setting.”[9]

The only requirements placed on the incarcerated 56-year-old white male when he entered the Bureau of Prisons was to participate in the institution’s Admissions and Orientation programme to learn his rights and responsibilities, the institution’s programme opportunities, and that pesky little part about the institution’s disciplinary system should Conte ever need to know that. He was allotted two long-distance telephone calls during the admission, and was likely told to do his time well and go home.

Conte’s co-counsel, Ed Swanson told the San Jose Mercury News in an article dated 2005-July-14 that Conte’s plea agreement did not require Conte to cooperate with federal agents in their ongoing investigations, thus, by nature, providing more breathing room to those who may have been waiting for that fateful day of witnessing.

We are pleased with the terms of the agreement and believe it represents a fair result in this case.[10]

How pleased they were with the California Department of Health Services, which fined Conte and Dr. Goldman a grand total of $772.170 – the largest fine ever levied against a licensed laboratory in California – is not known.

The original result sought by Conte’s counsel was a dropping of all charges, a sentencing to probation only, and a plea agreement to cooperate with the Federal government in catching drug cheats.

Covered underneath that blanket of secrecy was Marion Jones, waiting apprehensively for word of whether this would have turned into a public trial, as she would have indisputably been called to answer for inconsistencies between her Grand Jury deposition and the truths which were amounting from the “liars” who had accused her.

Said Conte of the entire BALCO affair to Lawrence Donegan of the Guardian, who interviewed Conte in Burlingame in May 2007:

Let me say the unknown is the scariest place you can be and when you have got the prosecutorial might of the United States, and every single alphabet organisation that exists in the country coming after you and then you have got the media telling everyone the government has caught the equivalent of a 30ft shark while you are trying to tell your family it's really just a 2in minnow and then I had to change attorney mid-stream and once I got some good legal counsel and they were able to get a tape measure up against the fish and it turns out to be a minnow,” he says when asked what it was like to be caught up in the Balco scandal.

Then when the US attorney general stood on the steps of the White House said that I was a modern day Al Capone character people could not understand why, on the day I was indicted [charged] I did the double biceps pose outside the courtroom and smiled. I did that because I knew what the real evidence was.[11]

The guilty verdict, and the avoidance of trial, meant Marion Jones would not have to testify in an open court and be forced, under oath, to repeat her secret Grand Jury testimony in unshielded – testimony which was certain to have not been in alignment with those of Conte’s, and several witnesses – including Hunter and Montgomery.

She wouldn’t have to account for her transgressions until Graham’s trial opened the door for the same opportunity, namely for Marion Jones to be forced, under oath, to repeat her Grand Jury testimony without the shield of the law at her side. As we are all fully aware, she never permitted that to happen, opting instead to confess of lesser evils before being forced to answer to greater transgressions with greater stakes and more medals to return.

Life for Conte has been relatively unchanged over the entire affair, he says; Conte has “learned how turn this lemon into lemonade”.

A $10.000 fine for a millionaire, a monthly pow-wow with an over-worked parole officer more worried about murderers breaking parole than a money launderer, and four months of holiday in the home was the legal punishment the architect of the greatest drugs scam in history received for his misdeeds.

James Valente, the vice president of BALCO who also was convicted in the case, kept SNAC alive, and provided Conte with a way of paying his excessively expensive legal bills - up to $500.000, says Conte in an interview with the New York Daily News. SNAC has been selling approximately 100.000 units/month of legal zinc-magnesium-vitamin B6 compound, according to Conte – something he says continues to make him a wealthy man.

Conte has continued offering supplements to interested parties in a renovated space where BALCO once occupied space; he is operating business around the side of the building. He states he has no interest in connecting any more dots to the BALCO-related athletes, saying it would be bad for business.

From this point forward I have no interest in causing any damage to the athletes connected to BALCO,” he says. They were doing what they needed to compete in sports that were hopelessly stained with drugs, that continue to be stained with drugs that easily avoid the world's best testing, he says. Causing damage to those athletes would also be bad for business. [12]

One is assured, therefore, that Marion Jones will never be connected to Conte through Conte, himself, in the form of witness testimony – though Conte stated in the above-referenced article that he was born to tell the truth; Conte’s accounts would have confirmed, supported and strengthened other circumstantial evidences collected against Marion Jones.

Conte’s counsel commented after the verdict that Conte had diligently worked with requests to cooperate during the process, and had been honest.

However, Conte’s truth-telling parade was believed to have crossed over more legal boundaries than Marion Jones’s lawsuit and settlement case against him.

The United States Federal government set a motion into place in 2004 to uncover the source of leaks from Grand Jury testimony – a jury which had been meeting weekly, on Thursdays, on the 17th floor of the Federal Court House in San Francisco – to San Francisco Chronicle reporters.

Conte was a continued suspect in this case until the San Jose Mercury News reported on Thursday, 2006-December-21, that Troy Ellerman, was being investigated by the FBI.

We do have an investigation on those allegations that he (Ellerman) was responsible for the leak,” FBI spokesman Joe Schadler told the Associated Press. [13]

Ellerman is reported to have initiated an aborted attempt to relocate the ProRodeo Hall of Fame from Colorado Springs to New Mexico (and later quit as its commissioner – a post he assumed in 2005-January). He is also under the gun for reportedly having cut off the Colorado Springs-based Women's Professional Rodeo Association from a major rodeo event in 2006, a development that contributed to the women's organization filing a lawsuit against the PRCA. [14]

Larry McCormack, reported by The New York Times [15] as having done initial investigative work for Conte in the early stages of the BALCO case, is a former executive director of the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame where Ellerman serves as Commissioner of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. McCormack was fired from the post early in 2006 – one which Ellerman helped him get. McCormack, acting on the advice of his attorney, apparently contacted the FBI sometime in September, stating that Ellerman gave the confidential information to a San Francisco Chronicle reporter in 2004.

Federal prosecutors had requested a two-year prison sentence for Ellerman for leaking the confidential information and then for subsequently lying about it under oath. They stated that Ellerman had significantly impaired their ability to fully conduct their on-going investigation of the BALCO case and indict accordingly.

U.S. District Judge White rejected the initial plea agreement, declaring that Ellerman had “corrupted several different aspects of the criminal justice system,”[16] and refused to be bound by the agreements agreed upon by the prosecution and defense teams. White did reconsider his rejection of the plea agreement, and, on 2007-July-12, ordered Ellerman to 30 months’ prison – 22 more than Victor Conte, who was part of the reason Ellerman was ever involved in the BALCO litigation – and a requirement to give 10 speeches to law students – down considerably from the $250.000 Federal prosecutors had earlier agreed upon and the a $60.000 fine believed that White would assess in the sentencing (Rule 11(c)(1) (C)).


[1]“Approximately 50 pages of evidence confiscated by the IRS from Conte and BALCO are thought to pertain to Jones, including a suspected doping calendar, ledgers and reports that appear to reflect private lab screenings for steroids and a $7,350 check to Conte drawn on a Jones bank account.” San Francisco Chronicle, 2004-06-01 [2] ABC television programme “20/20”, 2004-12-03 [3] San Francisco Chronicle, “BALCO’s Conte, Barry Bonds’ trainer sentenced,” 2005-10-28 [4] San Jose Mercury News, “Cyclist faces perjury charge in Balco probe,” 2006-12-15 [5] The Guardian, “Pound Angered By Conte Deal”, 2005-07-18 [6] Associated Press, “Conte, Pound meet in Manhattan”, 2007-12-13 [7] United States of America v Victor Conte, Jr, CR04-44 and CR05-455, Judgment in a criminal case [8] United States of America v Victor Conte, Jr, Northern District of CA, San Francisco Division [9] The Fresno Bee, “Conte’s chatter flows naturally,” 2007-08-17 [10] San Jose Mercury News, ”Lab founder Conte cuts deal, faces jail”, 2005-07-14 [11] The Guardian, “The sheer brass neck of sport’s most tarnished bad penny”, 2007-05-30 [12] New York Daily News, “Conte muscles back,” 2006-09-24 [13] San Jose Mercury News, “FBI looks at lawyer as leak in Balco case”, 2006-12-21 [14] The Colorado Springs Independent Newsweekly, “’Roid Range”, 2006-12-28
[15] The New York Times, “Lawyer Is Focus in Balco Leaks”, 2006-12-22 [16] ESPN, “BALCO plea rejected”, 2007-06-14


Why You Shouldn't Believe Marion Jones: Vol. 41

Story by Eric.

This is the 41st submission in a long series about Marion Jones, a former elite sprinter who won honour and earned endorsements, fame and fortune by method of fraud. This series continues with the Victor Conte story, one which categorically ties Marion Jones to steroids.

Though parts of this section may be historical in nature, its inclusion is relevant to the sum of the whole.

If Victor Conte really was a liar, then his statements were likely not true, and those accounts he stated should never have been accepted in a court of law. However, the evidences against those who have been banned and fined have spoken for themselves.

Marion Jones, in providing incriminating evidence which impeached her in 2007, validated points Victor Conte had made whilst having been declared a liar.

Arnold was also one who spoke about Conte’s name dropping, which included statements Conte made regarding Marion Jones.

In 2001 Arnold switched Conte from norbolethone to THG, which he'd just developed, because the former had begun to draw scrutiny from drug testers. Conte continued to pass Arnold's products on to prominent athletes, dropping the names of sprinter Marion Jones and others when he updated Arnold on their successes. [1]

Simply overlooking persons known merely as “associates” and taking into consideration only inner-circle, fortress-penetrating, trusted persons with whom Marion Jones had very close, personal, known contacts and relationships, one can wonder how Marion Jones was, as earlier referenced, shocked at the discovery of a dirty hand caught attached to her arm.

A matching set of Marion Jones’s closest possible associates – her then-husband, and her proceeding live-in boyfriend – were exposed as cheats at two completely linkable junctures during Marion Jones’s career. Both defendants – through testimony – link Marion Jones to Victor Conte in depositions provided during the BALCO hearings.

Marion Jones had had other associates outside of her stronghold – yet within the same circle of coaching and developmental influence – drop off the scene after failing drug tests. Marion Jones’s coach and personal trainer were also at quarterback for those condemned associates losing teams.

During a hearing on 2004-February-27, the U.S. government agreed, as part of its discovery obligations, to provide the defence counsel a copy of the transcripts of grand jury testimony from various athletes, with both the defence counsel and the government agreeing on the record, that the production of the transcripts would be subject to a stipulated protective order – an order which has a purpose of providing a basis for handling confidential and private information for which special protection from the public domain was warranted.

Marion Jones had been granted immunity for transgressions made in connection with the BALCO scandal which was being investigated, but chose to take matters into her own hands and lie about her connection to BALCO, and stated she had had no illegal connection to them.

USADA had requested the full transcripts of Montgomery, Gaines, Collins and Alvin Harrison in order to “see the right people compete in the Olympics,” said USADA attorney Bob Vizas to U.S. District Judge Susan Illston, who denied the motion stating there was not a compelling legal basis to gain access to sealed testimony. [2]

The United States Senate provided USADA parts of those sworn depositions after a committee led by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., voted to subpoena Justice Department documents connected to the steroid-distribution and then, following a closed-door hearing of the committee with USOC and USADA officials, Mr. McCain released those unprotected parts of the depositions.

Federal prosecutor Carter Stewart had earlier stated that the U.S. Justice Department believed that aiding USADA (in providing copies of e-mail messages, bank records, wiretaps and blood tests) would “undercut the ability of witnesses to come into these grand jury proceedings and testify truthfully.” [3]

Marion Jones made an attempt to have her records opened to the USADA – and apparently asked the USADA for help to have those records opened. Marion Jones requested an opportunity on 2004-June-16 – through a statement released to the Associated Press, calling it “a major announcement” – for the world to see she was “telling the truth” in her previous testimonies, and wanted this conducted in a public forum which best could modelled after a judicial proceeding.

I will answer all the questions USADA is asking of me for the third time. However, this time I will not answer them in secret and behind closed doors. I will answer them in public in the light of day so the world can hear the questions, hear my responses, see the information and see for themselves that I am telling the truth, she said.

We can answer these questions before the United States Senate, which has shown an interest in this matter, or some other public forum modelled after a judicial proceeding.[4]

That same day, Joseph Burton, one of her attorneys, contacted Senator John McCain by fax and US mail, requesting Mr. McCain consider convening a public hearing in which the USADA, for the second time, could question Marion Jones’s supposed involvement with BALCO.

Senator McCain acknowledged the effort made to bring up the matter before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, which he was chairperson, but referred Burton back to the USADA for due diligence process protocol.

I appreciate Ms. Jones’s efforts to bring her matter before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, which I chair, but the Committee is neither a court of law nor an arbitration panel. I believe that the most appropriate forum for her to address her concerns is USADA’s process. I understand the eagerness of Ms. Jones to have her status determined with respect to her desire to participate in this summer’s Olympic Games in Athens, but her request for a Committee hearing ignores USADA's jurisdiction over all U.S. Olympic athlete doping cases and the adjudication process adhered to by USADA to resolve such cases.

To date, there have been no reports that Ms. Jones has been notified by USADA that any action will be taken against her for a potential doping violation. Should Ms. Jones receive such notification, however, I would expect that USADA would grant her the same processes and protections afforded to all athletes similarly situated. If in such a scenario the parties agree to make the proceedings public, I would fully support that agreement. That said, I am hopeful that all of the athletes who seek to represent this country in Greece this summer, including Ms. Jones, will qualify for such a privilege based solely on their God-given athletic abilities.[5]

The USADA states that it is unable to comment on the specific facts of a pending case unless the athlete agrees to waive the rule and allows them to speak.

If legal complications were preventing Marion Jones from disclosing to the world the information she wanted available which could substantiate her claims, why did she not provide detailed accounts on the points and issues which were stacked against her – false accusations, as they would have been called – and provide the public an opportunity to review for themselves the bullet-listed items in question and the responses to those in specific detail?

The answer is uncomplicated and straightforward: She would later be exposed as a cheat and would have lost any dwindling public support for empathy in the matter.

Concerning the first USADA meeting, Marion Jones’s lawyers had requested that the doping agency retest all of Marion Jones's samples in her competition history. However, the USADA later responded in a letter addressed to Burton – which he released – that there were no saved samples of Marion Jones's urine or blood available because the official testing and storing laboratories had already discarded those physical specimens since they were negative based on “routine screens” – not screens for THG, EPO or any other designer drug unknown to testers before Graham surrendered the syringe to the UCLA laboratory.

The UCLA laboratory was able to re-test samples taken from track and field athletes from earlier in 2003 following Dr. Catlin's eight-team’s chemical detection identification of THG and subsequent development of a test for it – a pain-staking process (which, according to The New York Times, the team initially made a guess at what the molecule might look like, then tried to make that molecule and run it through the spectrometer until what they had made matched the pattern made by what was in the syringe [6]) which took 14 weeks in total to identify and crack. According to the Guardian, Catlin’s team found THG present in an unusually high number of re-tested specimen collections taken from American athletes earlier in the year.

Marion Jones, coincidentally, did not compete in 2003, again rendering void a request for an in-competition sample to be tested. She was tested three times by USADA that year – one which she was temporarily away from the track and the long jump pit to give birth to her first child, Monty.

The IAAF, following the USADA’s statement detailing its knowledge of THG on 2003-October-16, issued a statement five days later stating it would test every sample it had stored from the 2003 World Championships. No new names were added to the list of positives from the re-testing.

What also was disclosed to The New York Times from that three-hour meeting between the USADA, Marion Jones and her attorneys was that Marion Jones refused to have a court reporter record her comments, something USADA had planned to use “to avoid any subsequent misunderstanding,” according to Tygart, who has published law review articles addressing anti-doping issues.

Marion Jones would have had a 30-day window of notification of the availability of the transcript granted to her to review her written deposition and to have made any changes to the deposition – and provide a reason for doing so – which did not contradict her original statements; she would have been entitled by law to have made corrections to the transcript, though not to make substantive changes to her testimony (Greenway v. International Paper Co). There are certain courts which do permit that Rule 30(e) is broad enough to have allowed for Marion Jones to have had no restrictions placed on the substance of any changes made to her testimony, though had there been altered testimony which differed completely from the original testimony, both the original and the changed transcripts could have been used by USADA to attack her credibility and impeach her.

If Marion Jones left a deposition – which is still legally binding in a court of law, as it is a statement made under oath and admissible as evidence – her sworn testimony would have contradicted earlier statements made to the United States Grand Jury.

Furthermore, Marion Jones, when she had originally been suspected of EPO use following her “A”-sample positive, is stated to have never provided an explanation to Howards for why she tested positive according to stories The Washington Post and the USA Today printed when Marion Jones was vindicated by her “B”-sample analysis.

Burton, when he had a viable opportunity to have everything Marion Jones could truthfully state on record documented, instead said he wanted to have her talk under oath and answer questions not to the USADA alone, but to the public as to have an “impartial” hearing, leaving open a question as to how the USADA could have been less partial with stated, recorded, direct words from Marion Jones from which to draw factual information and make informed decisions.

An item which I have found curious in this case is that had this been a trial, if you, yourselves, would have been the capable jury responsible for determining whether you’d accept the corroborative evidence; if you’d be responsible for determining whether you would accept whether or not that the evidence is corroborative; and if you’d give accord to that evidence whatever weight (if there was any) that you would consider appropriate.

Marion Jones’s team never provides you that chance, forcing an issue of presumption based on their word rather than assurance based on examination which should pass tests of repudiation. The consequences of those presumptions, naturally, are that the average bystander won’t personally refute or question those claims, and very few did.

Her counsel stated to you that the UCLA laboratory evidences were “borderline” substantiations of truth, and with regard and respect to the supporting document they alleged they had received from USADA and shared with The New York Times (copies of several negative urine tests and a blood test purportedly belonging to Marion Jones; a check written to BALCO; a ledger that seemed to list test results and a calendar bearing the initials M.J. that appeared to contain code letters for prohibited performance-enhancing substances), you are told – without being able to see for yourselves – that you, as rationale people, should believe Marion Jones’s team, because they said so.

Marion Jones also told you to believe she was clean on earlier occasion, because she said so.

By implementing a strategy which had them turning to The New York Times, knowing that by doing so the internationally-acclaimed reporter of news would do its job – inform and involve you – her counsel had planned to bank on a credible resource providing what it deemed fair and accurate news so that you would not question the evidences, but believe the reporters to have done that for you.

The USADA, in pursuing further corroborative leads in the BALCO investigation, sent a follow-up letter to Burton requesting more information from Marion Jones. Burton made a statement which again circled the facts and omitted concrete evidence to support his assertion that she was a clean athlete.

At this point, Marion has answered all of the questions asked of her by the government and U.S.A.D.A.; she has passed every drug test she has been given, Burton said in the statement. And there exists no information suggesting that she has ever failed a test. It is time for U.S.A.D.A. to be fair and recognize that Marion Jones has accomplished what she has accomplished because of her God-given talents and hard work and let her move forward with her life.[7]

Burton, again, made the circular argument that insofar as Marion Jones had passed every drug test (more than 160 administered to her they state) she was given, and never failed a test, one should have put a stop to pursuing her for performance-enhancing drugs charges and had conceded that she had accomplished her feats on her natural ability.

What he fails to address, consequently, is that Marion Jones passed drug tests which were administered using standard protocol which was absent the technology or the understanding to detect foreign substances supplied by BALCO. Michelle Collins also passed every one of the tests administered to her, as did Chryste Gaines and Tim Montgomery.

Marion Jones, speaking on her own behalf of her previous test results, stated to the Guardian on 2004-June-8 that any – and all – of her previous tests stored would prove to show no signs of performance-enhancing drug usage, though three years later, she’d confess to having used drugs at a time when she never tested positive.

I openly requested - begged - USADA to re-test any samples they might have and, as you know, I am one of the most tested athletes in the world,” said Jones.

There has to be a sample out there and, if you can find it, test it and I can promise you it will be a negative test. I'm 100% sure I'm not concerned about anything that I've done in my career.[8]

Marion Jones’s final statement, “I’m 100% sure I’m not concerned about anything that I’ve done in my career,” is exactly why her admission of guilt is not to be taken at face-value, rather simply another utterance from a woman who believed she was superior to mankind in all respects. She returned her medals and is awaiting a sentence, but she has won more than she stands to lose in this game she had been playing since 1997.

I’ll really reserve comment to that statement for CNN’s Miles O’Brien, who had an opportunity to speak with Marion Jones’s counsel, Mr. Burton, on 2004-June-17 – six months prior to his second interview with him (which followed Conte’s “20/20” programme allegations) following a news conference in which Marion Jones stated she wanted evidence against her made public.

Miles O’Brien: “Mr. Burton, one of the things that Marion Jones has said is that she has taken 160 drug tests and has never failed a drug test. Isn't the whole point behind the particular substance that they're talking about, THG, that's it's undetectable in drug tests? So isn't that sort of defense of taking and passing 100 drug tests kind of a moot point in this?

Joe Burton: “No, I don't think it's moot at all. It shows that she's never failed a test. We've asked USADA to find any test that they can, any sample from Marion Jones that they can, and test it. They certainly have the ability now to detect THG. And Marion, being open as she has in this process, said, go find any sample of mine that you can find in life and test it, and test it for THG. And she's not concerned about that, because she knows that she has never taken a performance-enhancing drug, in any test of any sample that she's ever done is going to be positive.

So, I don't think it's moot, and it shows that she is willing to put herself out there, to open herself up, to have this whole process be transparent and have the world judge her as being drug-free.[9]

Not only was Marion Jones’s camp taking the offensive in their Public Relations plot through requesting samples be re-opened and undergo re-testing (when deterioration of that drug would have not yielded adverse findings), Marion Jones’s camp then went so far as to request of the courts the release of Marion Jones’s Grand Jury testimony so that it could be handed over to the USADA as confirming evidence of her never having taken performance-enhancing drugs. What they also did was lie right to your collective face, stating that Marion Jones had never taken a performance-enhancing drug, though they knew the BALCO issue would lurk in the background until she was called to provide an account for her deceitfulness.

Two schools of thought arose from this line of reasoning: To demonstrate that Marion Jones had nothing to hide, and that, by handing over her testimony, she could avoid having to answer any further follow-up questions posed by USADA to circumvent any contradictory statements she could have made. What her attorney team did in this case was reduce itself to the defensive position of merely picking at the USADA’s case against Marion Jones with a “you can't prove it” line of attack.


[1] US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, ”McCain Responds to Request from Marion Jones for Hearing on USADA Investigation”, 2004-06-18 [2] The New York Times, “Decoding a Mystery Chemical”, 2003-10-22 [3] The New York Times, “Facing Marion Jones And a Lack of Options”, 2004-06-10 [4] The Guardian, “Jones Hits Back at ‘ignorant’ Rogge”, 2004-06-07 [5] CNN “American Morning”, 2004-06-17 [6] Sports Illustrated, “Is This Dr. Evil”, 2006-10-03 [7] USA Today, “Judge rejects Olympic doping agency’s bid for BALCO testimony,” 2004-07-09 [8] Boston Globe, “Judge bans USADA from testimony”, 2004-07-10 [9] CBS News, “Sprinter Wants Public Dope Hearing”, 2004-06-16