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Keeping up with the Joneses

There was a time when Marion Jones had the world at her (very fast) feet. She was the dominant force in women’s sprinting, a gold medal winner at the 1997, 1999 and 2001 World Athletics Championships, and winner of three golds (and five medals overall) at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. She had even survived the revelation of her then-husband CJ Hunter’s ban for a positive nandrolone test shortly before Sydney with her reputation intact.

But by the time she was implicated in the Balco scandal in 2004, that reputation was already in tatters. By then, people were regarding her marriage with her former husband in a more cynical light. Having Trevor Graham as her coach made things worse. And her relationship with fellow sprinter Tim Montgomery (with whom she had a child), also the subject of a doping ban, further served to erode the presumption of innocence which she steadfastly continued to claim.

So Jones’s revelation on Friday that she had indeed lied in her testimony to a federal court during the Balco enquiry came as no surprise. Tell us something we didn’t already know, Marion.

Even then, her public ‘admission’ was nothing if not economical with the truth. She has conceded that she had given false testimony, but continues to state that Graham fed her tetrahydrogestrinone – more commonly known as THG or ‘the clear’ – without her knowledge. This despite consistent testimony from many others that she was a fully aware and active participant, and her own admission of there being a clear improvement in performance as a result of what she maintains she always believed was ‘flaxseed oil’.

She also announced her retirement from athletics, a disingenuous statement if ever there was one, given the inevitable reaction which would have followed from both US Athletics and the IAAF.

Forget the PR spin. The weight of evidence against Jones goes way beyond circumstantial: she is as complicit as she is guilty. And her attempt to claim her departure from the sport on her own terms was both self-serving and utterly transparent.

Nobody believes you, Marion. And, worse still, I suspect nobody particularly cares either. Good riddance.

As a footnote – and further evidence of the sickly state which athletics finds itself in – if the IOC strips Jones of her Olympic golds, one of the beneficiaries will be Ekaterini Thanou, the Greek sprinter best remembered in 2004 for attempting to excuse her third missed pre-Olympics drugs test by claiming she had been involved in a motorcycle accident. Not exactly a shining example of the Olympian ideal.

There was a time when Marion Jones had the world at her feet. Today, a weary world wouldn’t waste the effort of treading on her.

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About Tim
Father of three. Bit of a geek. That's all, folks.

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