Though Marion Jones is seven years younger than I, she was my hero. I worshiped her beauty, poise, and most importantly, her effortlessly perfect running ability as a sprinter – and as an Olympian.
When I first heard about Jones’ potential involvement in the Balco case that surfaced in early 2001, I read the news carefully. Had she actually tested positive?
After she gave birth to her first son in 2003, Marion’s times slowed, and I was relieved. She was more fatigued. Well of course she was, she was a new mother – I figured she probably was experiencing what so many new mothers do – the fatigue of parenthood is so prominent. I felt she was more human by being slower – she was like us, a tired parent, who, despite her amazing God-given talent, was not immune from the exhausting responsibility of raising an infant.
As time went on and more evidence mounted against her, I started to wonder if Jones was guilty of using “The Clear” or THG (tetrahydrogestrinone), a powerful anabolic steroid and almost untraceable steriod concoction that would boost her to world class running elitism, would destroy her, and her followers, who revelled in her ability. When I learned that she admitted to family and friends she admited to taking, THG in 1999, right before the 2000 Olympics, I was destroyed. My hero, had let me down.
According to the Washington Post, she had never tested positive to THG but there was other incriminating evidence; such as her name listed on calendars for drug administration at the Balco offices. What’s worse, however, is that my hero got in other trouble. What’s this about bank fraud? How could she let this happen? It’s bad enough she has let us down by using performance-enhancing drugs. Now I question her intelligence, wisdom, and parental capabilities. What is an ex-Olympian doing getting involved in other criminal activity? I just don’t get it.
Though her sentence is saddening, I respect the court’s decision. According to the New York Times, Jones “was given six months for the first count of perjury, stemming from the Balco case, and two months for the second, to be served concurrently. That will be followed by two years of probation, and she was ordered to perform 800 hours of community service working with young athletes to spread an anti-drug message. She is to report to a facility near her home in Austin, Tex., on March 11.”
Jones’ is not the only female sprinter to fall from grace.
According to an article on News 24.com, “American sprinter Kelli White was stripped of her 2003 world championship 100m and 200m gold medals after a positive test for modafinil, which she claimed she needed to treat a sleeping-disorder.” Ben Johnson was another top Olympian, stripped of his medals after admitting taking steroids. Another one of my heros, Justin Gatlin was banned from the sport for up to four years for his alleged steroid use, though he denied knowing his coach rubbed a popular steroid creme on his legs.
Unfortunately, if you are one of the top althletes in the word, everything that goes into or gets rubbed surfically on your body must be srutinized. I would rather be the number two runner in the world than be the number one person to fall from grace.
Marion – thank you for being brave. May everyone learn from your mistakes.