I thought it was flaxseed oil. Thanks to Marion Jones, that line is destined to go down in sports infamy. (It’s not nearly as good as the all-time got-busted line uttered by another Marion: The B—- set me up!” But we’ll take it.) That’s what Jones says she told federal authorities years ago when asked if she’d taken “the clear,” a performance-enhancing drug. Yesterday the Washington Post told us what we long suspected. Now, she says she was lying.
And it’s sad. Today, Jones poured her heart out to the feds in White Plains, NY. She said she lied to them about taking “the clear” prior to the 2000 Olympics, and lied to them about her role in a check-cashing-money laundering scheme hatched by her former coach Trevor Graham.
It was sad, really. She was so beautiful on the track. She was the first runner who made you watch since Florence Griffith Joyner. I met MJ a few times, and each time she seemed a bit of a contradiction. She was a gifted competitor, no doubt. But she also seemed extremely vulnerable. Easily influenced.
When I think of the men on her life – Graham, Tim Montgomery (the father of her son), her former husband disgraced shot putter C.J. Hunter and others – I envision a woman who embraced then listened to all the wrong voices.
Clearly she should not be absolved for her actions. She’ll return to court on January 11 and be sentenced for today’s confessions. She could get six months in prison, or more. The International Olympic Committee has reportedly said it would ask Jones to return the five medals she won in Sydney.
In a tearful public confession today, Jones said we had “every right” to be mad at her. She also said she would retire from track & field.
I’m more sad than mad.
But perhaps this is the beginning of the end for the lying. To me, that’s worse that the drug use itself. Athletes in various sports have simply been lying to us. They’ve not only comprised their sport but they’ve lied. I hope MJ gets the minimum sentence – if any sentence at all. Instead,laud her for being the first superstar athlete in what is clearly the Steroid Era in sports to tell the truth.
Maybe others will follow. Tell the truth so we can all begin to move on