Hasay Earns Second Footlocker Title

Mission San Luis Obispo (CA) senior Jordan Hasay, the national high school 1.500m record-holder and Olympic Trials finalist, won her second national cross country title today at Balboa Park in San Diego, charging past 2007 winner Ashley Brasnovan with 150m remaining to become only the sixth repeat winner in meet history.

“It was kind of crazy,” said Hasay, who entered the race as the first four-time West Regional champion, to the San Luis Obispo Telegram-Tribune.

“I didn’t know if I was going to win the race until the last 100 meters. When I crossed the line, I was just so happy.”

Brasovan, a senior from Wellington, Fla., moved ahead of pacesetter Allie McLaughlin with 300 metres left with Hasay also moving up. Then Hasay made her move on the final downhill, which she noted isn’t usually her strongpoint.

“Before the downhill, I thought I was going to get third,” said Hasay, who improved from third place last year (17:31). “I was OK with that. But I’m never going to give up. I’m really competitive. So I kept going.”

"I ran my hardest, and I am still happy with my race. Jordan is an amazing runner, and it was just an honor to race her," Brasovan said to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Hasay, who finished third in a Brasnovan victory last season, finished her senior cross country season undefeated.

McLaughlin, the Colorado State 5A state champion, finished fifth (17:34).

"I took it out hard," McLaughlin said to the Denver Post. "If I didn't win, I wasn't going to be happy, but I was pretty excited. After the race I felt like I ran the way I wanted to . . . that's just how it is until I work on my finish."

Kathy Kroeger, the 2006 Footlocker national champion and runner-up at last year's edition, placed sixth today (17:42).


Foot Locker Cross Country National Championships
Scoring Teams and Points:

1. Midwest 49 (3 5 9 14 18 21 22)

2. Northeast 51 (7 8 11 12 13 16 17)

3. South 60 (2 4 6 23 25 27 28)

4. West 65 (1 10 15 19 20 24 26)

1 Jordan Hasay (12) (W) Arroyo Grande CA 17:22
2 Ashley Brasovan (12) (S) Wellington FL 17:25
3 Megan Goethals (11) (MW) Rochester MI 17:30

4 Chelsey Sveinsson (10) (S) Dallas TX 17:31

5 Allie McLaughlin (12) (MW) Colorado Springs CO 17:34
6 Kathy Kroeger (12) (S) Franklin TN 17:42

7 Shelby Greany (12) (NE) Suffern NY 17:45

8 Chelsea Ley (11) (NE) Clarksboro NJ 17:49

9 Lindsay Flanagan (12) (MW) Roselle IL 17:50

10 Jessica Tonn (11) (W) Paradise Valley AZ 17:53

11 Emily Lipari (11) (NE) Greenvale NY 17:53

12 Aisling Cuffe (10) (NE) Cornwall On Hudson NY 18:03

13 Emily Jones (12) (NE) Harvard MA 18:11

14 Chelsea Oswald (12) (MW) Medina OH 18:11

15 Danielle Menlove (9) (W) Sandy UT 18:14

16 Laura Vigilante (11) (NE) Brookside NJ 18:14

17 Melanie Thompson (12) (NE) High Bridge NJ 18:18

18 Ashlie Decker (11) (MW) Des Moines IA 18:19

19 Alex Dunne (12) (W) San Clemente CA 18:22

20 Taylor Wallace (12) (W) Klamath Falls OR 18:24

21 Becca Addison (12) (MW) Spring Lake MI 18:24

22 Jordan Tomecek (11) (MW) Milan MI 18:25

23 Lauren Smith (12) (S) Lake Jackson TX 18:27

24 Megan Morgan (11) (W) Del Mar CA 18:30

25 Amanda Russell (11) (S) Cedar Park FL 18:30

26 Jessica Zangmeister (12) (MW) Fairview Park OH 18:30

27 Katie Kellner (12) (NE) West Windsor NJ 18:34

28 Shalaya Kipp (12) (W) Salt Lake City UT 18:37

29 Emily Sisson (11) (MW) Chesterfield MO 18:37

30 Jacque Taylor (11) (W) Petaluma CA 18:38

31 Kirsten Kasper (12) (NE) North Andover MA 18:40
32 Kayla Hale (12) (S) Indialantic FL 18:45

33 Jennifer Lynn Bergman (12) (W) San Jose CA 18:47

34 Sheree Juliann Shea (12) (W) San Diego CA 18:53

35 Adrianne Soo (12) (S) Chapel Hill NC 18:53

36 Diane Robison (11) (MW) Chesterfield MO 18:54

37 Ashley Isham (11) (S) Cedar Park TX 19:00

38 Megan Marsico (11) (S) Salem VA 19:06

39 Kimberly Spano (12) (S) Huntersville NC 19:07

40 Erin Cawley (12) (NE) Newark Valley NY 19:08

Senior Solomon Haile, who won the Northeast Regional title by 12 seconds, defeated Alaskan Trevor Dunbar by seven seconds to win comfortably.

Dunbar finished third at the West Regional last Saturday at Mt. Sac College.

Boys Scoring Teams and Points:

1. Midwest 32 (4 5 6 7 10 13 15)

2. West 51 (2 8 11 14 16 22 23)

3. South 71 (3 12 17 19 20 21 26)

4. Northeast 77 (1 9 18 24 25 27 28)

1 Solomon Haile (12) (NE) Silver Spring MD 15:15
2 Trevor Dunbar (12) (W) Kodiak AK 15:22

3 Thomas Porter (12) (S) Fredericksburg VA 15:26
4 Drew Shields (12) (MW) Fishers IN 15:27
5 Jakub Zivec (12) (MW) Grand Rapids MN 15:29
6 Evan Appel (12) (MW) Littleton CO 15:36
7 Futsum Zeinasellassie (9) (MW) Indianapolis IN 15:40
8 Chris Schwartz (12) (W) Bakersfield CA 15:41
9 Joe Whelan (12) (NE) Hamburg NY 15:44
10 Joseph DeMoor (12) (MW) Buena Vista CO 15:44
11 Brian Shrader (11) (W) Flagstaff AZ 15:45
12 Leoule Degfae (12) (S) Alexandria VA 15:46
13 Danny Pawola (12) (MW) Naperville IL 15:46
14 Shane Moskowitz (11) (W) Bremerton WA 15:47
15 Dylan Sorensen (12) (MW) Zionsville IN 15:48
16 Zachary Torres (12) (W) La Crescenta CA 15:48
17 Andrew Berberick (12) (MW) Littleton CO 15:54
18 CJ Brown (12) (S) Southlake TX 15:54
19 Michael Moverman (12) (NE) North Easton MA 15:54
20 Kyle Satterwhite (12) (S) Charlottesville VA 15:55
21 Matt Sonnenfeldt (12) (S) Knoxville TN 15:56
22 Bill Matthews (12) (S) Birmingham AL 15:56
23 Steve Sulkin (12) (MW) Elmhurst IL 15:58
24 Steve Magnuson (11) (W) Oro Valley AZ 15:59
25 Cody Helbling (11) (W) Coeur d'Alene ID 16:00
26 James Cameron (12) (W) Rancho Santa Margarita CA 16:00
27 George Galasso (12) (NE) Holmdel NJ 16:01
28 Andrew Springer (12) (NE) Westerly RI 16:01
29 Clint McKelvey (11) (S) Maryville TN 16:04
30 Philip Wood (12) (NE) Yardley PA 16:04
31 Ben Furcht (12) (NE) Haverford PA 16:07
32 Phil Galebach (12) (NE) Medford MA 16:11
33 Chase Rathke (12) (S) Katy TX 16:17
34 Tyler Udland (11) (NE) Short Hills NJ 16:18
35 Joseph Manilafasha (12) (MW) Denver CO 16:19
36 Evan Hibbs (12) (S) Georgetown TX 16:25
37 Wyatt Landrum (12) (W) Oakley CA 16:27
38 Karreem Tyre Johnson (12) (W) Gonzales CA 16:44
39 Alex Ott (12) (S) Weyers Cave VA 17:30
40 Brett Johnson (12) (NE) Ocean City NJ 18:41


Final Verdict on Marion Jones: Vol. 63

Written by Eric.

This is the 63rd and final submission in a long series about Marion Jones, a former elite sprinter who won (stole) honour and earned (stole) endorsements, fame and fortune by method of fraud.

This story, now in its final segment, is being told in its entirety, because Marion Jones is unable to do it herself inasmuch as she is more complicit in the BALCO affairs and her own drug-taking than she has led on.

As this series on Marion Jones now draws to a conclusion, one important question continues to arise throughout, namely: Can people prone to dishonesty in certain circumstances ever, under any non-compulsory situation, simply tell the truth?

Marion Jones, following years of nagging, begging, pleading and admonishing you to do just the opposite, wants you to believe anything is possible.

Fortunately, we are not here to solve that mystery of when, if and under which of circumstances they’d be more apt to act accordingly.

However, I’m basing much of my argument over the fact that, yes, indeed, mendacious people can and will do so sans reward, but will also even do so when the very real threat of direct punishment and punitive damages looms overhead.

Your job as peer adjudicators of this case is to first presume that Marion Jones has a clean slate and has never tested positive for any drugs. You owe it to her to reserve judgment until all of the facts in the matter of this case are collected and digested individually despite what my prejudices in the matter are.

You have a fantastic opportunity afforded to you to think critically through logic and reasoning to determine if there is enough convincing evidence to remove every reasonable doubt you could have as to assertions that Marion Jones has deceived, conned, tricked and lied about her involvement with performance-enhancing drugs – from the on-set of her career through to her final brush with danger in the form of a positive EPO test turned negative. If you have a single reasonable doubt about the veracity of her claims, you will be obligated as honorary deliberators to vote “not guilty.”

However steep your path rises in interpreting the truth of what Marion Jones states, nevertheless, the course upon which you will embark will involve an individual detailed mental self-examination of your feelings, thoughts, and motives as they relate to this case compared to the evidences provided on both sides – suggestions of exoneration and those which point to undeniable guilt. Those self-awareness activities have an integral relevance and impact on your belief system and judgment capabilities, and are, therefore elective courses of action for which you will be required to take in order to fairly and accurately play your role in this case for which you have been called.

Marion Jones wanted you to count partial evidences and statements of facts which actually omit fact to determine that, based on those “near truths,” you would be able to make good use of those assets and advantages to help her obtain success in this case. Triumph for Marion Jones and her camp, ladies and gentlemen, would have been a permanent, binding and final judgment on her character leading to no less than a “not guilty” verdict on the whole of her actions and associations, and no deviation from journalists, fans and any investigative agency down paths looking into the sum of the parts making up her character, reputation and achievements. Had she have been exonerated, that is, she would have wanted a cease-and-desist order placed on speculation – present or past.

She was granted no such reprieve, however, and was cast further into the spotlight.

It is because of her past that you sit here looking at her present situation, however, and are being asked by peers prosecuting this case in the public’s court to declare that Marion Jones, the former world an Olympic 100m champion, ineligible from all competitions as a professional athlete and to have her marks, times, places, honours and achievements stricken from historical accounts achieved by clean athletes – or those who have failed, themselves, to have thus far been caught. She has had a block of her history removed – a period between 2000 and 2006, but that accounts only for the time Marion Jones was willing to provide U.S. Federal authorities concerning her drugs-taking.

You, having demonstrated tremendous patience in sifting through the many thousands of words written to establish a case against Marion Jones, will also be requested to indebt Marion Jones to the sport in a manner and fashion appropriate and just for hoodwinking general fans who’d never imagined the degree of deception spun in the inner circles. Forcing Marion Jones to finally speak on her own behalf truths and more truths – and nothing but truth, so help her God – whom she relies on to take care of her financial needs and future, will remove doubt as to how clean waters in Marion Jones’s life turned into mud, why she willingly crossed into deserts wrought with danger, and how she grew wings in 13 weeks to rise past competition which was unmistakably superior in form and experience.

Though details about Marion Jones’s life will present you with factual information on her personal acquisitions and obligations, you are not here to judge the life and times of Marion Jones the free-spender and payment-skipper.

However, in concert with that spending, nonetheless, you will be asked to have her explain in reverse order the sequence of events from her alleged phone call to her attorney back to her testing day at USATF in order to factually capture those events as they occurred – leaving no stone unturned.

You have been told the “truth” as it was presented through Marion Jones and her counsel. You will and shall ask for Marion Jones to verify the truth in reverse chronological order without hesitation to establish if, indeed, the facts fall into place much as she did when preparation of those facts was made.

The significance of this exercise, ladies and gentlemen, is to utilise a manner of truth extrapolation which enforcers of the law who are chosen to investigate claims made under oath to speak the truth operate to better determine veracity of facts provided them. It has been proven effective, and, as Marion Jones has shown a propensity to utilise methods enforced by law officials to verify truths, it should so be carried out.

Establishing truth in that matter will uncover compelling evidence which demonstrates that Marion Jones did have – and used – motive, means and opportunity available to sweep a positive drug test under the rug, and, in so doing, to mask that deception by participating in – or allowing – leaking of those details to cover up her misdeeds.

Those misdeeds, recall, are a long period of performance-enhancing drug use which had previously been called to light, but had never been captured as such until the 18th day of August, 2006.

Inasmuch as untruthful people are also able to have integrity and speak forthrightly on occasion – and sometimes do reach out in peculiar ways as to reveal a misstated fact or omission of accuracy, one can and should trust that those who have previously testified about Marion Jones are persons fully able to reason and act with consequence to the benefit of truthfulness.

That is a fact which you must carefully consider, as said testimony provided on previous occasion in courts of arbitration have condemned – not exonerated – athletes who have made certain claims about themselves. Having been declared guilty based on the information they provided about they, themselves, you shall also carefully consider their testimonies when associating a factor of truth relevant to what they have stated about Marion Jones.

When they have had means and opportunity to make condemning remarks which would have imminently linked Marion Jones to their legal, binding testimony whilst facing their own perilous futures in arbitration courts, each witness has remained conspicuously silent on any and all matters thereof.

The chief provider of information concerning Marion Jones was outspoken on several occasions and faced a lawsuit initiated by Marion Jones’s attorneys on her behalf in an attempt to vigorously explore the possibility of his having defamed her by his statements made on television and through an internet media source. It is due to this previous drugs provider that several athletes were found guilty – both through analytical and non-analytical evidence – of using substances deemed inappropriate and illegal.

Marion Jones escaped a collision with truth and evidence when, having been issued a grant to avoid testifying in his case by means of a plea bargain, the defendant refused to help authorities solve mysteries known solely to the defendant, himself; the cornerstone of evidence available was stowed away and locked.

You now have the terrific responsibility of ascertaining if those statements he made about Marion Jones were authentic and carried with them any significant measure of weight to tie her to wrongdoing.

You will also provide Marion Jones, herself, an opportunity to be as determined to demonstrate the same amount of resolve to be as open about life as she was about concealing her athletics death – with no possibility of an afterlife. This may prove to be a tall order, nonetheless, as prompting Marion Jones to show any true remorse – not a shower of tears – in the matter can be akin to attempting to draw water from a desert weed, as in this instance:

My life does not revolve around having to prove to anyone that I am drug free. I am probably one of the most tested athletes in the world. I have never tested positive for a steroid. The people that know me ... know I would never do anything illegal. I would never take any performance-enhancing drug. I'm not going to degrade myself to prove I'm drug free. I know I am.”[1]

Instead, she degraded herself by changing out of her street clothes into her prison-issued Khaki clothes.

Pause for a moment, if you will, and consider this: It couldn’t be more shocking or more “degrading” for an athlete unprepared for the drugs-testing procedures to submit to those tests the first time they are required to do so. They are followed, watched and observed as they relieve urine into a bottle whilst a person of the same gender watches to ensure no substances are introduced to the specimen and ensure that the specimen content being delivered is that of the selected athlete.

One athlete, Brit Jason Gardener, the four-time European indoor 60m champion who announced his retirement in the early summer of 2007, lamented the idea of anti-doping officers’ participation in the testing process, stating:

And I won't miss someone calling at my house and accompanying me to the toilet, standing less than a metre away and watching me provide a urine sample. I always thought that was an invasion of a human right.”[2]

Having submitted to these tests more than 100 times, there is nothing degrading for Marion Jones as a professional athlete submitting to a process performed by a professional in collecting such samples.

She was, consequently, required whilst an active, non-retired athlete to submit to random testing procedures as agreed upon by her athletics federation, the International Olympic Committee and the world athletics governing body, IAAF.

More than that, she will be banned from the sport for taking illegal drugs.

Had she been further involved in the sport without the drugs confession, she would have been subjected to random and selected testing time and again to prove that she was not taking a drug – the same as every other athlete who is tested is obligated to substantiate.

If Marion Jones had not found the process of frequently leaving random physical specimens degrading, how would the thought of one being requested by an ascertaining body have been considered to be humiliating to establish the same facts?

The results would have proven devastating.

Alas, lest we forget, Marion Jones had a flare for being dramatic to the point of anything which called into question her moral code and values, though it be a combination of choices and associations she had previously made and been a part of which do just that, namely question her claims of being drugs-free.

You now having the means, motive and opportunity to deliberate and reach a verdict on both Marion Jones’s believability and her credibility prior to her confession and testimony. As you take thoughtful, methodical steps to consider the evidences accordingly, I would like you to consider the old biblical parable of the farmer planting his seeds, since Marion Jones is leaving it up to God to sort out her future:

The farmer, whose livelihood depends on skilful seed scattering and crop growing, toils long and hard to spread seed across four lots of property. Some of that seed falls on a path, but pigeons and other birds come and eat it; his first attempt at bringing food to his table will prove unsuccessful as that seed has no chance to spring up and bear fruit.

Having left his future to fate and nature, some of the farmer’s scattered seed will unfortunately be strewn across stony places – which, having no depth to the soil and no cover from the sun, will be parched by the sun’s harsh overhead heat and dies.

Having hope that scattering seeds would grow a crop which would yield food and draw cash for subsistence – but not having any control over where the seed ultimately landed, the farmer would regrettably discover that some seeds consequently tumbled into un-ploughed areas which were unprepared for harvesting with the existing vegetation crowding out the plants and causing them not to grow.

However, given his experience as a farmer – whose life and pursuit of basic needs is reliant on his ability to farm – he knows some seed will fall where he wants it to go, namely to the fertile soil – where they will grow, produce a lively crop and put food on his table until the next season.

Let’s make this practical to your experience here as members of this public discussion.

You, dear friends, are meant to be a representation of the various types of soils, and the seed is reserved to be the message you have been provided to impart knowledge to reason, reason to understanding, understanding to action, action to closure.

The seeds – or impartations of knowledge – in the first three instances in the parable represented information provided to jury members who were given direction but lacked hearing and understanding – people who had made certain determinations in their minds prior to allowing evidences to come into play – being partial rather than impartial in their judgments. They also represented persons who were unable to translate those words of testimony into practical application, and were unable to receive those instructions with all readiness.

Those seeds, as you know, bore no fruit for the farmer.

Now I, believing that you are rational people who, having withstood the duration of this dialogue, are keenly aware of the previous issues at hand sans Marion Jones’s confession – unlike those who would rather have had you hardened to the sum of the truths spoken and softened to the half-truths delivered to conform to a point, also have a willingness to listen and a desire to learn how the facts in this case stacked up against what Marion Jones had stated and what those who had spoken out against her had issued as far as decrees. I don’t believe you would have been allowing yourselves to be susceptible to deceptive speak-talk from Marion Jones nor from me as your guide through this maze of influence.

Consequently, nevertheless, I implore you – having been equipped to carry out such a vital task – to take with great responsibility the burden of toiling in your fields in order to allow fruit to be borne. Take action as you conclude deliberating within yourselves to turn over the soil as it were, and allow new seeds in the sport to grow in place of the withered weeds which, if they were to have continued to root deeper into the garden of athletics life, would have choked and rotted life out of all else in its field.

You face a challenge of uprooting – digging out – the choking, wild vegetation which resembled Marion Jones in the sport, and removing with it all records of note; all recorded times and distances; all marks and placing; all medals won outside of the statute of limitations; and all remnants which remain of Marion Jones planted into the sport as a wild weed by way of abuse of performance-enhancing substances. The issue that presents itself is what amount of punishment is sufficient, but not greater than necessary, to impose a just sentence in Marion Jones’s case. Reaching your agreed-upon conclusion may cause inconvenience insofar as you may hold an unpopular viewpoint, though in light of her confession (and apparent lack of sincerity), you may have more support than you had counted on.

It is the power which you have – of a public with a singular opinion – which can ensure life, liberty and the pursuit of athletics achievement can be done with passion for the sport and respect for those who also wilfully partake in such endeavours in a manner and fashion which is both legal and ethical, and holds the sport in a good light.

Marion Jones is not such a person who has any respect for the sport, though she wanted you to have believed otherwise, as demonstrated pursuant to her Millrose short-sprint victory, which followed a 14-month absence for child-birth and rearing.

That buzz, the feeling was so overwhelming,” Jones said. “I looked around the arena and said, ‘This is where I belong - among people who love this sport.’”. [3]

People truly in love with the purity of the sport don’t want Marion Jones, however. Perhaps they are in the minority – at least according to an ESPN report in 2007:

But do you see any kind of mass revolt by fans demanding a cleanup? Anyone boycotting the ballpark? Not according to attendance figures pretty much across the landscape of major sports.

We're too emotionally invested to pull out. We love the great performances too much. We want to believe in the 70-homer season, the 40-year-old Olympic swimmer, the world-record sprinter. Sometimes, we want to believe it too much.

Maybe that willingness to suspend disbelief is why athletes always plead their innocence despite evidence to the contrary. They figure we'll buy anything. [4]

Marion Jones-Thompson, a married woman, has moved on with life and, following her penal code issues – including prison and probation, will follow the pursuit of her goals outside of the track stadium. She will attempt to turn over her own new leaf with her husband, their infant child and her previous one from Tim Montgomery, but she will first reap in prison what she sowed far away in North Carolina.

This series hasn’t been about the movement of Marion Jones-Thompson, nor is it about the private steps she, as a non-athlete, has decided to take much the same as with the end of her previous existence – alone and secluded.

Marion Lois Jones the athlete, however, had a passion for winning, but did not have a respect for self, for others or for the sport which provided her a platform upon which to seize the opportunity to vigorously – yet legally – pursue those winning achievements against her desired goals. That Ms. Jones, ladies and gentlemen, did wilfully and deliberately make conscious choices to cheat the sport of athletics, of which the nature and circumstances of her offenses require a public-opinion sentence imposed that reflects the seriousness of her misconduct and promote respect for the law which governs her sport.

Based on the foregoing, I trust that you, the fans of this sport who have also stood by throughout the course of this manuscript, having been led to it by your unending support of the sport of athletics through continued engagement of activities and participation – having respect for the principles of fair competition and of the laws which govern the application of those principles – will agree that a term of lifetime exile from this sport’s esteemed places – with all of its rewards and adulation – will be sufficient but not greater than necessary to end the rain of deceit and cover-up of those actions by Marion Lois Jones, a former Olympic and World Champion who achieved these distinctions by method of fraud.

Gail Devers, the USA 100m hurdle record-holder, speaking on the Marion Jones topic following the self-confession, stated:

My first thought was to say a prayer for her and her family and whatever she is going through. That's all we can do is pray. I am not the judge or jury,” Devers said. “All I ask is that she asks God for forgiveness and that her family and particularly her son will be shielded from any harm.”[5]

Paul Doyle, Asafa Powell’s agent, was less than forgiving on the matter, believing much harsher penalties should await Marion Jones.

I think personally athletes should be going to jail if they knowingly cheat. It is fraud, and sport is a big business now, and if you commit fraud in business, you should go to jail. I think honestly the only way we can deter young, upcoming kids who think drugs is the only way to be successful is if we can get really harsh and have jail time.”[6]

I by no means am casting the first stone at Marion Jones, nor the second or the third... or any for that matter. I realise completely that none of us is perfect in word or deed. Moreover, despite what injustice one may perceive that Marion Jones has committed against them, her athletics governing body, the international body governing them and the anti-doping folks really are virtually the only ones who own the right to take aim at her athletics career.

And, they have chopped hard against the grain of cheating which had been Marion Jones’s career.

My personal wish has been for enough people to gather small pebbles and create a cloud of dust, to provide Marion Jones the point to take a long hike back into the wilderness and simply disappear into the night away from the sport in any capacity forever. Her records from 2000-September-1 onward – including 24 of her sub-11 second 100m performances – have been annulled, providing a great doorway for her to move on through.

Then again, in being prejudiced on this topic, I am not one for much wishful thinking. Somehow, Marion Jones will never simply go away.

That is good news for the IAAF, which hopes to bank on the account of improprieties Marion Jones has stashed now that she has been released from prison.

There is a lot of sadness for Marion and her family.

Six months in prison is a lot, but you do hope that it will be a deterrent to others.

Hopefully when she is out of prison she can help the IAAF and other organisations to ensure that other people don't follow the path that she certainly followed.

It (her doping) has certainly hurt the image of the sport.”[7]

Lauryn Williams, whose agent spoke vehemently about Marion Jones as quoted earlier in the book, hopes Marion Jones also can contribute something positive back to the sport. Perhaps Marion Jones can find it in her calloused heart to give graciously and freely of herself in order to provide positive change and direction for the many thousands of children, teens and even young adults who were waiting on her every race with great anticipation.

Said Williams on her WCSN.com blog:

Why I believe her situation is unfortunate is because she has created a life outside of track and field. And that life consists of two children and a new husband. Her children, will have a period in their life w/o a mother due to the decisions she’s made in the past and/or the people she chose to associate herself with. That is unfair to them.

So now maybe u can understand ‘unfortunate’ because now her past has caught up to her present and will effect not only her future but her children’s future.”

I asked this question before I met her in 2004. What did she contribute to our sport so far? I saw plenty of commercials and interviews but I have never heard about anyone saying that Marion contributed anything to the sport off the track.

It is 2007, and I still wonder what other than run fast did she do to improve the sport for everyone??

I think Marion owes us something. She should make an effort to redeem the sport. She shouldn’t go hide now in shame. She should speak to children about how not to make the same mistake. She should discuss with USADA what they can do better, and at meets make herself available to answer questions to fans of the sport. She should serve on a panel at the USATF national convention this December where we can ask her whatever we want about how this happened and explain to her how we feel. Also there should also be a tell all that explains the whole story and how it unfolded. Many people don’t condone writing a book that tells a story of conspiracy, fraud and other negative behavior by an author.”[8]

I hope and trust that you tend to agree, and will shun away any such attempts from Marion Jones should she ever decide to tell all just for the money.

Everything she has done from 1997 onward with respect to track and field has been about the money. It would be wiser counsel to have her simply escape into yonder to raise her two children and attempt to be a good wife... now that her prison sentence has concluded.

Then, and only then, can she follow her dreams and wishes to tell her children the story about the life and times of a woman who twice lied and wasn’t home to put them to sleep.

My passion in life has always been my family,” Jones said.

I know the day is quickly approaching when my boys ask me about these current events. I intend to be honest and forthright ... and guide them into not making the same mistakes.”

As everyone can imagine, I'm very disappointed.

But as I stood in front of all of you for years in victory, I stand in front of you today. I stand for what is right.

I respect the judge's order, and I truly hope that people will learn from my mistakes.[9]

Those were truly costly mistakes, and, unfortunately ones to which she still has not completely erased by virtue of withholding important information from the beginning stage of her career.

And of Victor Conte, whose connections to Marion Jones have been both for better and for worse?

I feel very sad for Marion and her family. Marion did make some very poor choices and she does deserve serious consequences.

There is no doubt in my mind that she has learned gigantic lessons.

Hopefully, she will be able to serve as an example to others and help them to make good decisions.

I certainly don't condone her repeated lies, but I do feel especially bad for Marion's mother and her two children.

Marion was one of the most celebrated athletes in Olympic history and her mistakes have caused her to be stripped of everything she worked so very hard to achieve.”[10]

Marion Jones-Thompson will have time to change her course and add back to society whilst performing a number of community-service hours – 800 to be exact – 400 for each of the two years of probation she will be on now following her incarceration’s completion date. Judge Karas, who spared her a fine due to her stated lack of money, recommended that Marion Jones-Thompson work with the USOC and USATF to educate children and school-age athletes about the importance of competing without cheating.

According to Karas, Marion Jones’s involvement with children would “take advantage of Ms. Jones-Thompson’s eloquence, strength and her ability to work with kids,” and would teach children that “it’s wrong to cheat and to lie about the cheating.”[11]

Six months of confinement in the detention centre should have provided Marion Jones-Thompson some reading time and many an hour to contemplate her future steps in life. They should have also provided her time to read about the Federal government laying into Graham and associates in his Federal trial – one which she was on standby as a witness.

If she has learned her lesson in this case – one which ends with her forced to spend time away from two sons – one of whom is still nursing, she will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help her God. If she has decided to take criminal advice from inmates whose own strokes of luck didn't help – rather hurt – their short- and medium-term free movements and ability to choose when they want to arise and go to bed, she'll land in an even bigger mess with harsher consequence and an upgraded prison facility with higher walls and an extra set of razor-wired fence the next time a trial of any significance comes her direction.

The choice is now Marion Jones-Thompson's to make. She, wanting to be a catalyst to help others, must start off by being truthful to herself. Once she has her inner-demons figured out - those which bring out the sociopathic tendencies in her - she can seek advice to begin changing her ways. She's been in prison - a place where lies, lies and more lies have gotten a majority of the women in there, and where lies, lies and more lies rule the inner walls where it is challenging to trust your neighbor in the two-floor dormitory setting which houses the 1.000 women there.

If she has made good use of her time in helping others help themselves, Marion Jones-Thompson may find that honesty really is the best policy to ensure she has a decent shot at a good future and can be a respectable member of society who works for a living and pulls her own weight legally, lawfully and respectfully.

Carswell Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas would have allowed Marion Jones-Thompson to use her college degree within the prison walls had she spent any considerable time at the prison. Though a communication specialist, she could have been granted an opportunity through the prison system to tutor and mentor women who are working toward earning their GED certificates; her short, six-month stay will keep her on simpler duties, however.

Notwithstanding, she will have witnessed no greater truth than observing the varying levels of education women in the facility will possess as she interacted with them – from describing a chore to asking to have the salt passed across the chow table. There is little wiggle room for a person behind on math or without a good grasp of the English language to fake their way to a passing score.

The women with whom she interacted – each with a specific inmate number and offense committed against the government, just like Marion Jones – were on her level, not beneath it. To some she will have wished to have been invisible. To others, she may have befriended on cordial terms – especially the three women with whom she will share a living quarters; room inspections occur five times weekly as well as a unit inspection. Marion Jones was responsible for her room. Teamwork – something Marion Jones has previously taken for granted for her own gain – will have come in handy at Carswell Federal Medical Center, as inmates in her unit are likely to co-operate on duties to get the work done quicker.

The important lesson she will have needed to learn on the prison premises is that lying – misstating the truth – can – and often does – have disastrous consequences, as rules behind the walls are often harsher than rules on the outside – even if those walls are erected around minimum-security facility.

Marion Jones-Thompson had an opportunity to make a difference to these women in food-service job (dish detail or a cooking duty), and by doing so, to start making a difference to herself. It can provide an excellent platform for her – an individual who needed time away from being in the centre of attention with a captive audience.

Her alternative was to work on the compound landscaping, scrubbing washroom walls, showers and toilets depending on what availability the prison, listed on the Federal bureau of prisons, as being approximately 10 inmates short of capacity, has available.

Her postal codes changed significantly over the past year, as she occupied space in a building located at Carswell Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas – a facility located more than 100 miles from her home, and, subsequently in the half-way house where she spent her final two weeks before being released. Perhaps moving from her castle to shantytown to the slums – where writings on the walls tell stories of worry, frustration and a longing to be free will lbe the liberation Marion Jones needed.

Then again, as time has shown on more than one occasion, it may only turn her resolve to maintain her inner strength ever the more powerful resulting in hardness and another facade under which to live, hide and escape when the pressures mount. She appeared on Oprah in late October to be the same person she was prior to entering the penal system: a calculating liar.

She had two months to prepare herself for entry into the penal system and her boot camp. She's had six additional months to figure out what to do with the rest of her life as well as the two years and 800 hours to commit to a plan to give back to the sport from which she robbed.

Until such time that her Department of Corrections obligations are satisfied, she can practice playing the children's game “Truth or Dare?” with her eldest son and see how many times she can pick the former, rather than the latter. She has more than her tattered and permanently damaged reputation on the line.

And so it was, and shall always be, important to tell the truth one word at a time in order to avoid daring anyone else to sue, to judge or to throw away they key for any period of time, however great or small.


[1] San Francisco Chronicle, “Marion Jones isn’t running ... steroid controversy”, 2004-05-14 [2] The Evening Standard, “Gardener Dig At the Cheats as He Hangs Up Spikes,” 2007-08-03 [3] New York Daily News, “Marion Jones back on track at the Millrose Games,” 2004-02-09
[4] ESPN.com, “Forde: We love ’em and can’t leave ‘em”, 2007-08-09
LA Daily News, “Track star Marion Jones admits lying about use of banned drugs,” 2007-10-06
[6] International Herald Tribune, “Marion Jones makes right decision, but truth comes too late”, 2007-10-09
[7] The Guardian, “Officials hope Jones sentence will be deterrent”, 2008-01-11
[8] WCSN.com – Lauryn Williams Blog Entry, “Thoughts on Jones”, 2007-10-09
[9] Sportinglife.com, “Jones Hopes Prison Sentence Is A Lesson To All,” 2008-01-11
[10] BBC Sport, “Jones punishment is fair – Lewis”, 2008-01-11
[11] MSNBC, “Marion Jones sentenced to 6 months in prison,” 2008-01-11


Turning the Page on Marion Jones: Vol. 62

Written by Eric.

This is the 62nd submission in a long series about Marion Jones, a former elite sprinter who won (stole) honour and earned (stole) endorsements, fame and fortune by method of fraud.

This story, now in its final chapters, is being told in its entirety, because Marion Jones is unable to do it herself inasmuch as she is more complicit in the BALCO affairs and her own drug-taking than she has led on.

Marion Jones was a desperate woman in desperate want, a person who was absolutely in need a new life in 2006, and having convinced herself it was time to end her spiel, she was absolutely in need of a total makeover in 2007. That would appear to be one reason she remarried and moved from North Carolina to Texas where the crowds are fewer, the personal history not as deep, and the future brighter in the absence of having to see physical reminders of all that once was, and objects of possession which would never again be.

Marion Jones collected eight international championship, cup or Olympic victories and added a dominating 14 national championships to her legacy whilst competing in the sport of track and field as a professional athlete. However, when she packed her NIKE gear away in her bag – a question even arises as to whether it was even ever unpacked – and departed the five-floor, nine-suite hotel she was booked at in Zürich in August 2006, did she know that all she would have left to show of the lot was nothing more than a few dusty trophies and a collection of articles of an athlete once thought to have been the savior of her sport?

What she did know was that her medals collected between 1999 and 2001 would certainly be recalled and snatched from her bragging shelf. She also knew the pain and anguish it would cause her former teammates who shared on 4x100m and 4x400m teams in which she participated in either of those championships – or both.

Her estimated bank account balance at that time would demonstrate that the sum of her bills would have added up to more than the memories can compensate for them, and the plane ride would be her last on someone else’s dollar.

Running away from Zürich, and, likely the sport, doesn’t guarantee her any ability to completely be able to run away from life, as it were, insofar as each and every time she looks at her son, he will continue to remind her of his father and of times she and he shared – both good, bad and in-between, and times surrounded by controversy, allegations, banishments and branding as a cheater. Using a hyphenated name under the union of marriage rather than assuming a completely new identity will be another.

But Marion Jones-Thompson really is two different persons: She’s Marion Jones, who aggressively and illegally pursued times, places, marks and medals and vigilantly challenged all that stood in between – including Victor Conte, and she’s Marion Thompson, wife to a man who has quietly gone about living his life in Austin, Texas and was selected unexpectedly for the 2007 Pan-American Games.

Uniquely determined, she was Marion Jones whilst the first married man in her life, Cottrell J. Hunter III, kept his own name – and own problems – to himself. She remained Marion Jones when her next significant other, Tim Montgomery, would fall into the BALCO trap and ultimately fall out of grace from the sport, and from the record-books. And, she was Marion Jones, the last woman standing (or was that sitting?) after an EPO scare was followed by an interview in September 2006 which had her completely shocked that she’d been wrapped up in another drugs story niggling at her heels again, but a story which was rebuffed and stomped out when a scientific method proved that she didn’t take drugs then…or ever.

What remained to be seen up to her sentencing was which name she would use when sentenced for crimes against the United States of America, the country she stated she betrayed by obstructing justice and lying to Federal authorities.

She chose Marion Jones Thompson.

Due to the former, the latter self - despite its introduction into the public domain as a criminal - is not left to exist in the future under the sun without the clouds of the past creeping up and raining on her celebration of a new life, new goals, a new scenery and, quite likely, a new career.

Perhaps Marion Jones-Thompson’s hasn’t been consigned a firm-footed and grounded place in life, rather a juggling act she’d have to manage the rest of her natural life. She juggled interests as a two-sport athlete in high school and university with starkly different physical responsibilities; she managed to co-exist between principles of right and wrong as a professional athlete; and she managed to get rich at the genesis of her professional athletics pursuits and end up “broke” when the book of revelation was opened in the form of a 180-page declaration of facts to authorities – powers of influence with whom she has had a lot of dealings in her career professionally as an athlete, privately as one who has breached a financial contract, and personally with respect to economic support for her child.

Continuing as one person united to power and greed whilst life circumstances attempted to split her into another was been an act Marion Jones had been attempting to perfect for some time up to – and including – her incarceration.

Following her latest tie to calamity, it would seem conceivably best for her to give up the past and press onward in a full sprint ahead to a life outside of the lanes – rather than one confined by them. But Marion Jones needed the structured boundaries in her life as she did on the track, with violations of stepping outside for any given time immediate and irrevocable; her entire sports life has been governed by guns and whistles, officials and fouls.

There is hope that a new existence in a state far away will ease some of the troubled life that has been Marion Jones’s own reality – one which she created and lived under whilst the world hadn’t a clue of how elusive and deceptive it was, rather believed it to be rather distant, yet on par with lives lived by other famous athletes.

Had Marion Jones (Thompson) not been ensnared in the Graham trial, she would still be too old to legally run as she once did in her early 20s – when she was able to illegally withstand a high demand of competitive races per season and compete through multiple rounds requiring strenuous activity.

Additionally, her value as an asset to European meet organizers would have been severely handicapped due to a number of factors – most of which surround the image she portrayed. The 2007 season did not produce ground-breaking and earth-shattering marks in Marion Jones-Thompson’s absence, but having broken away from the sport for a second term in the latter stages of her adult life would not have been advantageous to fast running and high placing.

Having had time on her hands – those minutes, hours and days which comprised the 24 weeks she would exist whilst in prison, Marion Jones-Thompson appears to have one simple choice remaining at this juncture in her life: Marion Jones must give up memory of the life which took her to stadiums in such places as Maebashi, Birmingham, Monaco, Stockholm, Sydney and Bruxelles – which had along with it provided personal excitement generated when thousands once cheered her on inside the arenas and queued outside the hotels she was booked at for autographs and move forward. It benefits her nothing to live predominantly in the past in a sport which she cheated – through BALCO – to make her name, earn her income and collect her valuables.

Retirement from this sport would have been inevitable to Marion Jones, as her body, having twisted, turned, raced and run thousands of times the world round from California to South Africa, and from Mexico to Greece, grows stale, became less flexible and, ultimately, didn’t provide the same spark and drive found in the fountain of youth. Certain athletes – like American middle distance runner Jim Sorensen – still have the steam left in their engines to give chase to records – both personal and those accessible to the world in their categories, but they are a rarity and seem driven by being unable to leave the daily grind of training behind.

Perhaps moving to Austin, Texas, is a great break for Marion Jones-Thompson, as she is addicted to results, and Austin is addicted to the outdoors and sport – sharing more than 200 city parks, nearly 75 miles of maintained hike-and-bike trails, thousands of acres of nature preserves and 2.3 million acre-feet of water surrounding Austin according to the Austin Sports Commission; the city is positioned on the Colorado River, with three lakes within the city limits. She should appreciate the freedom following a lockdown behind prison walls.

Austin can provide Marion Jones-Thompson, a parolee and criminal record-holder, a new leaf to turn over and can blow an allowable breeze behind her into a future as an average citizen – her reported income-level defaults her into that given category. Whether she takes stock in that opportunity and moves on forward is completely up to her own initiative, drive and determination – three characteristics for success which she does not lack insofar as motivation is concerned. As she moves forward into life with her new husband, she can learn much about what regular people who work hard and have good moral values – upright citizens – do as a community, and herself become part of that community.

Marion Jones-Thompson, who seemingly has put all of her trust in God in her darkest hour, perhaps can hook and reel in people waiting to hear a “terrible” story about shame and guilt, robbery and deception – and turn that opportunity around into gaining support as a person now forgiven and whose faith and values have been restored. Perhaps, leaving her financial destination to God, as she stated, she can serve her community as an ambassador to youth gone wild and gain community support as she delivers messages to wayward teenagers who, themselves, are travelling down a road of becoming slaves to the consequences of their own bad choices.

I hadn’t the slightest idea what Marion Jones-Thompson would do had she reached the stage where she, sans any standard threat of exposure as a cheat, would have been requested to look both left and right and be asked to make a directional choice accordingly. She has, however, already crossed that path, having moved on along following the sale of her last home – leaving only remnants remaining of a life in North Carolina which, to the onlooker who would have peered in at her estate from the dirt road leading down to the murky green water some seconds away, appears to be held together in a broken vase full of shattered hopes and bad dreams.

I, too, stand at a cross-road in this chapter of life, as I’ve dedicated the greater part of a year following a trail which seemed to not have a direct origin, and has ended with a woman taking the liberty granted her by the government of the United States of America – handed down in the state of New York to pursue life and happiness to whatever degree, to what end and to what length she feels can be applicable given the criminal circumstances of her life.

Now that I am compelled to go forth into my next mission – as this one is nearing its maturation, do I believe that Marion Jones owes me any explanations regarding the events which have engulfed her and beleaguered her past?

No. She attempted to provide them to Oprah.

Had Marion Jones provided them, I’d likely be cynical in trusting their validity and authenticity – having a tendency to believe, instead, that her remarks were another well-crafted assist from her counsel weary that their client, who’s been considerably apt to stray away from due north, would say or do something which could be held against her in a court of law. I was, consequently, one who smirked for all the wrong reasons when Marion Jones was at the wishing well and asked – pleaded – for a scientific test to cover all transgressions. Cautious pessimism is the best I could afford any non-specific Marion Jones testimony and explanation she may ever feel compelled to bring about.

I’ve been asked to imagine what it's like for Marion Jones to be charged with a doping violation and to envision what it likely felt like for her to have been caught up in guilt by association – implicated, if you will, for offences that she didn't commit. I’m reminded that she had to appear before a Grand Jury and swore on oath she should not be accused of committing a crime as she was drugs-free; she told the courts that she was not guilty.

I am instructed that my duty is to assess the credibility of each and every witness who can speak positively and negatively of her actions and character, and told to determine the facts from the evidence. I’m advised, however, that I should ignore anyone who could likely have a beef with Marion Jones, as those people who were to speak out on record under oath were either liars who should face jail time or were compelled to speak against their wills. I’m informed that Marion Jones is not on public trial in a kangaroo court for violations of a moral code, but it is that same standard of morality – honesty – with which her attorneys want me to find character witnesses impeachable.

Dick Pound tells those who would believe that a “kangaroo court” existed to think again.

I have also questioned the wisdom of the strategy adopted by
her entourage of accusing the
U.S. Anti-Doping Agency of being a kangaroo court when every piece of evidence points to the contrary.”[1]

I’m told to ignore all logic and stick with the facts, namely that Marion Jones had never failed a drugs test, and, despite her associations with men who would later become criminal, I should never consider the company which she kept as being any indication of the strength of her character – this despite the fact that the law would give me the right to draw reasonable inferences from the evidences brought up whilst investigating those persons.

Then, when the weight of guilt vs. innocence was at its breaking point – when scattered evidences became very real in the form of a positive test for EPO, I’m told that a great injustice was done to Marion Jones when her result was leaked to the world rather than allowing due process to run its rightful course.

I’m told that Marion Jones became shocked at the news of testing positive – that she was overwhelmed with emotion when it was revealed to her that a chain of custody number corresponding to her name displayed a result of drug usage the top laboratory in the United States – and arguably the world – had determined through borderline interpretation that the result was positive. So shocked, I was told, that one morning in Zürich Marion Jones called someone who cared enough about what had happened to do something about her predicament. That someone was her attorney, who, in his turn, hired an expert to refute the evidence initially discovered and turned “The Day That Track Died” into a legal means for his client to continue her pursuit of economic sustainability.

His client refused, citing loss of form, but was thankful the test taken proved once-and-for-all that she had never taken a drug, period.

That, for me, specifically, ladies and gentlemen, is what suctioned up the collective strewn pieces of half-truths Marion Jones had earlier used to litter the ground she walked on and had them cast out into a pit.

Notwithstanding, Marion Jones has come clean – or at least as close to her version of it as possible given her nature and propensity to embellish and misconstrue truth. She is a self-convicted drugs cheat and money-laundering accomplice.

My advice – as a calloused person whose involvement in this, like you, is in a search for truth – to you is that you tie the knot on any trash bags you, too, may have and drive them far, far away from you to a special place set aside where other dirty, clunky and sealed bags full of polluted things Marion Jones has stated end up on a heap pile.

In spite of this potential prejudice – an opinion I carry which had every possibility of contaminating you as honorary jury members had you been unable to draw your own conclusions without reasonable doubt, take every opportunity afforded you to draw deductions based on each and every one of the facts as they have been presented to you through Marion Jones’s recorded athletics history, times, marks and places compared to her peers, especially when she was out of each of the sport’s echelons – upper, middle or lower – in the 100m and 200m before undertaking an improbable and implausible rise which do not show characteristics for such early success in the absence of means and opportunity; Marion Jones’s own words, denials, admissions and excuses, along with those defensive words used by her attorneys; draw your conclusive points through the testimonies of athletes who’d cheated but turned the other cheek; moreover, follow the reasoning set out by those who have pursued truth and evidence and based their legal decisions thereupon; make informed choices based on county files which are deemed to have been recorded as being true and accurate, and which can be construed as demonstrating a cover up when the events are taken in chronological order; and, finally, panel, judge the facts as you see them based on accuracies to stories told by and for Marion Jones – up to, and including, any which may reveal how one drugs test was categorically and retrospectively able to clear Marion Jones of any potential wrongdoing.

[1]Washington Post, “WADA Chairman States His Case”, 2004-08-23

Turning the Page on Marion Jones: Vol. 61

Written by Eric.

This is the 61st submission in a long series about Marion Jones, a former elite sprinter who won (stole) honour and earned (stole) endorsements, fame and fortune by method of fraud.

This story is being told in its entirety, because Marion Jones is unable to do it herself inasmuch as she is more complicit in the BALCO affairs and her own drug-taking than she has led on.

This entry asks if all that Marion Jones set out to accomplish by method of deception was worth the weight of gold.

Marion Lois Jones was once the fastest kid around town.

Folks who have followed her career since the wee days when she was a precocious 14-year-old remember her spiking one foot into the surface of tracks near them and following with another until her momentum churned and she sped to finish lines ahead of her competition – if it is, indeed, fair to call high school girls running half a second slower than she was “competitors”; there were a lot of other girls like her friend Samantha (Clark) Hollister who ran in the same races as Marion Jones and have memories of lining up on the track at the same time in the same race, and have scrapbooks filled with results which prove that they did run against Marion Jones.

The year before she entered high school, she won eight medals at the USA Youth Championships.

Marion Jones likely also has a lot of scrapbooks filled with memories from her days and weeks and years spent between two California High Schools, Rio Mesa High School and Thousand Oaks.

One needn’t be reminded that Marion Jones did demonstrate herself to be an exceptional talent which, when turned into a running machine, would be dangerous and a strong world-record holding candidate – the fastest-ever to sprint from null to 100m in 11-odd seconds with a legal wind captured during those fleeting seconds from the gun to the tape. As a prep senior, she had accomplished more in terms of records and titles than had any of her predecessors. Marion Jones was a woman looking up at the top of the world, and would have had only a few mountains to climb to reach the skyline had she focused on athletics instead of allowing her sport to play second-fiddle to basketball at North Carolina.

Marion Jones was a stellar high school basketball star, but it was not her better of the two sports she played. She had conquered every foe beginning with her 10th-grade track season, and never lost a high school race the three remaining years of her prep career. Her team did lose a few basketball games, and that lack of completion – perfection – may have spurned her interest to compete in the sport in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Marion Jones never relished perfection at North Carolina, but the teamwork employed by five starting individuals and a support cast of substitutions allowed her to taste ultimate success in basketball, and she was once able to take home the coveted NCAA trophy which only one team per season is able to do in a sport which eliminates competitors until two remain – both eager, hardened, tough and exceptionally skillful eyeing the same prize, important national respect and an opportunity to stand on top of the centre podium when the big show concluded following five rounds and a final match.

Marion Jones the track and field star took a long ride in the back seat following her high school days, and, ultimately, in 1997, she, just having graduated from university and green to a newer world than she’d last seen before her re-birth to the sport, was lured by the idea of consciously perfecting herself as an individual again and gaining the fame and positive public scrutiny of wagered when one of her caliber is able to win every race, achieve excellent performances and put together relatively insurmountable win-streaks – all whilst completely under the spotlight of a crowd and class of people completely supportive of her return to a sport where she was, at one time, indeed missed.

She had an opportunity that season – or at any time following her decision to turn professional – to surround herself with people of good character who had something of value to share of themselves with her. Having done so may have altered her entire course of modern history as she knows it – leaving her to enjoy her accomplishments and leave a positive which would continue to have a significant effect on the sport long after she would have departed.

Instead, Marion Jones made several critical mistakes along life’s decision-making path – the genesis of which was taking the easy road to stardom with Trevor Graham’s assistance. She wound along and spiraled further down a slippery slope with Victor Conte and, ultimately, had a reluctant willingness to pass “go” on Charlie Francis – three associations which, when viewed in crystal-clear hindsight, would not put Marion Jones closer to learning good values and leaving a positive legacy, rather be engagements which would link her to one of the most intricately and secretive ploys to scam and deceive this sport has ever witnessed.

Marion Jones’s first coach is connected to a long list of rumours of crimes and her agent has been connected to a crime also committed by both the father of Marion Jones’s son and by her latest coach. Sandwiched in between there at some point nearer the rise than the fall was a criminal conviction her “nutritionist” was handed out – a connection which brought drug allegations from Marion Jones’s first husband, who, in his own right, was conclusively a drugs cheat.

In all, Marion Jones either didn’t know or wasn’t told that shady deals were occurring right under her nose, as she became shocked to have stood by the side of two men who lived under her roof and used drugs, and one who slipped them into her training scheme whilst she hadn’t the slightest idea – or so she said.

Marion Jones won three gold medals in Sydney, Australia, and appeared to have had more weight in stature, fame, glory, marketability, demand and prosperity than any other athlete at those Games; she appeared to capture with her triumphs and attempts at making history a key ingredient which could transcend national borders and make her a cornerstone upon which the sport of athletics could justifiable seek its ambassador, one which the world could easily embrace, and a person upon whom sponsors could pin their sales pitches and ride the wave of popularity Marion Jones had created personally and professionally.

As you know, those medals were captured – stolen – by method of cheating, and the cornerstone which once was Marion Jones had become the greatest fraud in the sport’s history.

How much weight did Marion Jones bear in her three successful attempts to taste gold, touch it – run her fingers along the patterns imprinted on those circular-shaped medallions handed out to those who were declared “victors” on the medal stand?

Did she feel a weight of emotional gratitude for support in front of thousands in the stadium and millions watching simultaneously around the world as language barriers were broken amongst strangers who stood side-by-side holding consecutive-ticket numbers high-fiving one another whilst their girlfriends and wives had tears swell up as they were taken back in the moments as she accomplished her missions? When executives in private suites and open corporate boxes loosened their ties and took a break from numbers crunching and making the world turn round watched as Marion Jones ran around the world in their $700-million stadium?

Heck no is the prevailing attitude stemming from Sydney following her “confession” – at least according to Australia's senior International Olympic Committee member Kevan Gosper.

I have no sympathy for her,” Gosper said. "I think she's a cheat, like any other cheat.

I think the tragedy is for the sport, and it is disappointing that it will cast some shadow over the Sydney Games.”[1]

Was the sum of all gold medals – those prizes she was able to win at the cost of the valued and esteemed virtues she gave up in the form of honesty and integrity – worth the reward and its weight when innuendo turned into speculation; speculation into accusations; accusations into denials; denials into further assertions; lawsuits stemming from those actions; loss of form, loss of liberty to pursue income and opportunity; loss of desire to continue; and loss of freedom to remain selectively secret resulting from the combination of all of the above?

Was her reward just and applicable when reputation and character were challenged and world-wide support began to become subdued? When prized possessions became yard-sale material, and house and home was taken from under her feet in an embarrassing fashion? When very private affairs of financial nature became public knowledge? When strength of character figuratively changed from being a Vogue-featured woman-on-the-rise to tabloid trash located in paperback form at a convenience store near you? When she ultimately had to stand before a court of law and discover that her story, as good as she may have told it, would not save her from spending time in prison?

Marion Jones likely doesn’t collect newspaper articles written about her these days – no matter how much one can assume negative press can be turned into something positive. It seems highly unlikely any reconciliatory spin could be put on going from riches to rags and seeing it printed hundreds of times in columns and syndications, plastered across most major newspapers in her home country, and reading about the same on the internet.

Then again, Marion Jones prefers the spotlight, and spending time alone in a prison cell can motivate one to read, reminisce and find temporary escape into much nicer, more fulfilling times; she may do just that, namely pick up old scrap papers and tell stories to other inmates about how she travelled the world; was involved in what could be considered an affair with a big man; was tricked by a bad coach; and was lonely without her kids. There’s an audience for such a story to be told.

An inability to reconcile his moral code prompted Chambers to resort to taking performance-enhancing drugs, yet he gained no title benefit to justify having done so. The fall-out was horrific, the punishment was justifiable, and he felt obligated to shield his mother from negative press accordingly.

Michael Johnson spoke about Chambers in a column in the Telegraph which can generally be applied to Marion Jones as well:

I have been asked many times why an athlete would choose to use drugs. I always try my best to explain their stupidity by pointing out how people can get caught up in the money and the fame and not think about the risk involved. They also forget that they might not actually achieve what they believe they can, or what they have been promised they can, if they use drugs.”[2]

The weight of a promise – belief in a great expectation – can lead to exceptional triumphs in life given the right motivation, the proper support and the means and opportunity. Gold medals are often won by athletes facing dire straits and insurmountable odds stacked against them to have even made it to the final as a contestant against the best in the world – athletes with more money, more means and more opportunity, but not with more to win and gain for an entire tribe, an entire people or an entire nation.

Victor Conte operated business on a premise that the athletics world was not created equally, which resulted in his having cheated the purity and integrity of the sport, creating false expectations for his clients, and robbing purists of a standard of performances which had considerably raised their anticipation of what was humanly possible to achieve with the right training, motivation and opportunity. Conte provided promises of stardom, excellence and fame (“a level playing field” as he’d call it) to certain clientele – many of whom were completely aware of the dangers wrought with forging a business partnership with him.

Conte’s pro-doping actions – no matter how meaningful or how easy to achieve – are under no circumstances justifiable to the least degree; he worked in ways which were contemptible, vile and loathsome. He wronged athletes, professional sports, fans who follow those sports and, equally as importantly, himself and his family of privacy and normalcy when he had previously been beleaguered by scandals, small claims lawsuits, personal problems and family issues relating to divorce and custody battles.

Was the consequence of all he had accomplished – supplying substances to lure dope tests in order to provide athletes like Marion Jones, Chryste Gaines, Tim Montgomery, Dwain Chambers, Michelle Collins, Kelli White and more evadable opportunities to pursue their dreams at an advantage greater than the sum of the athlete who had never been inclined to cheat – worth the costs of suffering defeat, vehicle collection, wristwatch and sustainable and profitable business notwithstanding?

I hurt a lot of people and caused a lot of harm and damage,” says Conte, founder of the supplement and drug laboratory connected to five people who have been convicted of crimes, including Greg Anderson, Bonds' personal trainer. “Serious mistakes were made, and I learned some valuable lessons in the process.

A lot of people in this world have made mistakes, including me. Did I commit crimes? Yes. Did I do time? Yes. It took awhile for me to forgive myself, and I have.

I can't understand all of the hate. At some point, I hope the world can forgive me. I should be entitled to a normal life.[3]

Marion Jones requested of the world a similar forgiveness.

I recognize that by saying I'm deeply sorry, it might not be enough and sufficient to address the pain and hurt that I've caused you. Therefore, I want to ask for your forgiveness for my actions, and I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.”[4]

Conte, in his past history with the media, has not demonstrated a character which has been susceptible to failure, nor has he granted the public free admission into the personal parts of his life. He has been defiant of order and defiant of the law, yet he has reached a point where his hands are raised above his head in surrender to the motion he created by one conscious choice to cheat. He states that the burden on his family has been too great to bear, but time will tell when the final chapters of his professional life are wound up.

Marion Jones had never before relented to the pressures she faced to bear a burden of falsity and duplicity prior to her confession provided to family and friends and spread across the internet. The nearest in proximity to folding under the weight of living between right and wrong on previous occasion was in having made an admission to The New York Times that the afflictions her family were facing had reached a maximum limit when her “B”-sample test was recorded and word was set forth declaring her innocence to charges of doping. Unfortunately, her admission retained no form of ownership to the root cause of those problems.

Marion Jones had prior to her conviction and sentencing portrayed a life which has not had a significant weight too great to bear or crosses too heavy to carry on her shoulders in relation to athletics. Her determination to succeed had its own soul and had helped her from an early age to deny fear and to push beyond comfort – to the point of appearing machine-like in manner and deed whilst on the track. Fear, to her, was like a pendulum which moved according to the laws of physics once it is set into motion. Once fear’s motion stops producing energy, it slows and lacks purpose. Marion Jones had not been a fearful woman on the track, and had taken risks in life which would greatly retard the common man’s willpower to try knowing the final, just and lasting rewards would be severe and leave a dubious legacy for his children to inherit.

Off the track, on the other hand, Marion Jones turned from a fearless defender of truth in the version she had to offer it to folding her cards, playing victim to life, and leaving it all up to fate to work out the future. May it be said that the matter of truth she attempted to endorse bore minimal to no weight of believability, and made it easier for her to transition from one extreme to another.

Marion Jones conceded that certain events in her life – a compilation of bills, an abundance of legal fees, and having adhered to high standards of living and the like – had become too much to maintain, and had, subsequently, become draining financially of her personal assets and energy.

Would it not have been possible for Marion Jones to have acknowledged that certain events in her athletics life had also caused her unwanted consequence by her own hand – a relation between result and cause similar to the personal one she faced? Or would that information, rudimentary at best, have been too much truth to reveal, though only on a level which is obvious to the untrained eye and passers-by who may never have followed her story? Recall, if you will, that Marion Jones did indicate that certain associations in her life had been associated with her name. Would it not have been prudent for the wise to have turned course and made a thoughtful admittance that those events did occur due to her personal actions?

Had the cost and price she paid for her lack of wisdom, which, if exercised correctly, would have not had her sprint down an athletics lane to infamy, been greater than the equal and just reward she had received for those efforts to deceive, lie, cheat, steal, deprive and prohibit others cheated out of qualifying places and championship medals from living dreams Marion Jones robbed unto herself?

What did it profit Marion Jones, when viewing her career retrospectively at the first instance – having undertaken a task to fly to the top of the athletics and personal wealth world through the aid and assistance of Trevor Graham and Victor Conte, who, in succession, would turn a machine forward in Marion Jones which could never find its own wilful ability to reach a pinnacle and stop on its own terms – to have had gained gold, silver and bronze, but to have lost respect and credibility – the soul of being included in society, and to have been stripped bare by the curse of plenty?

Had Marion Jones taken time to retrospectively profess that there did exist solid connections in her life between poor choice and dire consequence – both of the personal and professional category which accumulated actions affecting her well-being and position in athletics history – and endeavoured to be free from the entanglement to those through concerted efforts demonstrating a move away from bad choice, she could have much sooner conceded the fact that one simply is unable to continue running at will from one extreme to the other without the risk of being caught at some point in the middle.

However, Marion Jones did not do that in her personal life, and vacillated between the bounds of rich and poor. She exchanged cash for money in the financial affairs she undertook, and ultimately was snagged in a trap.

She didn’t follow that given path in her professional life, either.

When push came to shove in the athletics world, Marion Jones was a fierce competitor who would never permit herself to intentionally foul out of the game. She sprinted, planted and jumped, and landed as far as possible into the sandbox in which she played. When red flags were raised, she was the kind of person who would have used instant replays to demonstrate that steps on the line were not steps over the line, and, therefore, were no reason to foul her out. She was Marion Jones, she said, and had no will to be left behind.

Golfer Lee Trevino once stated that “in the game of life it's a good idea to have a few early losses, which relives you of the pressure of trying to maintain an undefeated season.”

Marion Jones, however, is a woman whose life has heretofore been surrounded by hunger, passion and a desire to achieve under the most extreme versions of pressure, and she has been an athlete who hated to lose...ever. Defeat has had no place in her life, and was the very source of her ambition to succeed.

When the burden of the consequences to her associations has been perceived to have burden Marion Jones, she has interchanged players in her game and continued onward. When the yoke she bore as a result of her personal actions grew too heavy, she simply strengthened her legs and marched onward. She had attempted to force herself to remain in the game despite how much it costs those who participate with her. The weights of anticipation and of the prize justifiably exceeded the cost to achieve those to Marion Jones, and people who followed her closely were simply treated as objects to use or overcome as she has made her way forward.

[1]The Australian, “Gosper offers no sympathy to Jones”, 2007-10-08
[2] The Telegraph, “Bad days for drug cheats like Dwain Chambers”, 2007-07-11
[3] USA Today, “After BALCO, Conte still in the supplement game”, 2007-07-08
[4] Chicago Tribune, “Marion Jones Admits Steroid Use”, 2007-10-06