Disgraced and banned athlete Marion Jones made an appearance on Oprah Winfrey's television show today to talk about some of the troubles she has faced since "confessing" to two charges of lying to U.S. Federal investigators in a New York-based check fraud case and the BALCO case to which she had been ensnared the previous five years, but, unfortunately, her story no concrete information or revelation for folks seeking after the truth behind her steroids-taking.
Jones, who was linked in via satellite from her home in Austin, Texas, provided teary-eyed substance for Oprah's viewing audience, but could not find it within herself to state she took performance-enhancing drugs.
"It's been a long journey," she says. "But I cannot go on anymore with this baggage lying to the world, lying to God."
The untrained eye which looks at Marion Jones, a mother of two who "no different than anybody else except for the fact that you see me on the front page of the paper", has been blinded by the game Jones is playing with people just like them, and has become incredibly blinder by a group of supporters who, despite agreeing that her having lied to U.S. Federal authorities was wrong, nevertheless are holding fast to the notion that anything but home confinement for the convicted felon – who poses no immediate danger to society – is unjust.
Four years ago, Marion Jones held a conference call with reporters ahead of the Millrose Games in New York. Talk surrounded the BALCO connections which were dotted to Jones, and she grew tired of the innuendos, accusations and of defending herself against analytical evidence she had been involved in the drug scandal – just making its way to the fore of national news.
Said Jones, among other incredulous statements revealing her stance toward the ordeal:
“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.”
She was happy how she stood in the public's eye during a time when she was on un-detectable performance-enhancing drugs. Some of that public grew very suspicious of her, eventually, and she, as noticed above, flipped them the bird.
Now that she has been exposed to a certain degree — though not fully, she wants forgiveness. Her fans, who seem to not have been slighted by the least in this matter, cite that she has paid back society and then some by asking that same public for forgiveness for lying (but not for having taken steroids).
Jones, who is unable to speak much of her past due to conflicts she will face in releasing information ahead of Trevor Graham's trial – information which has legal and civil consequences for Jones, chose instead to speak about the future, not dwell (avoid) on the past.
Jones withheld information from Oprah, who questioned her several times on the show regarding knowing that she was, indeed aware that she was lying, and offered up a point about moving forward into the future.
"I truly think that a person's character is determined by their admission of their mistakes and then beyond that, what do I do about it? You know, how can I change the lives of people? How can I use my story to change the lives of a young person?"
Marion Jones's character was forged long ago with her insistence on lying, cheating and using methods and means to get ahead which were unlawful and unjust. She revealed to Oprah that Jones's character has not changed insofar as she has not fully admitted to her mistakes, and wants folks to look the other way – much as some of her own fans are requesting of the U.S. government, which prosecuted her and is sending her to prison for six months.
Let's take a look at what that debt was, and what, exactly, she repaid her "debt":
- Loss of Olympic medals: She was awarded five medals by method of fraud, and she did deliberately and intentionally cheat her competitors of the opportunity to not only win or place higher in the standings, but to receive with those distinguished accomplishments all that being a champion would entail – including 15 minutes of international fame. Her Olympic and World Championship medals were never hers to collect in the first place. Had she had been discovered at any time during the Olympic Games to have cheated, she would have forfeited her medal(s) and been expelled from the Games. She wasn't, and never would be, because she was on an intricately-woven cocktail of performance-enhancing drugs which were unknown to testers, undetectable by virtue, and illegal. She used these for personal and financial gain, and knew the possibility of being discovered was little-to-none.
- Times, distances, marks and places erased between September 2000 – 2006: She, by method of fraud and deception, did employ a tactic to garner such distinctions and cheat the rightful recipients of such fame, fortune and history. Ms. Jones, the clean athlete, simply has not existed during that period, and neither have her marks.
- Loss of money: She, having collected honour through methods both illegal and immoral, was awarded money through contracts, appearances, sponsorships and earnings — all of which was not hers to begin with. Ms. Jones spent her earnings — which were paid under the premise that they were rightfully earned — on personal items including house, home and an array of vehicles. Ms. Jones is facing a class action lawsuit by member organisations in Europe who paid her large sums of cash for appearing at their meetings and earning — later discovered to have been by method of fraud — prize money for recording fast times and setting unbeaten streaks.
- Humiliation: Marion Jones, having spoken of a lie which she had harboured deep inside for an eight-year period, put herself in the public spotlight to face ridicule and its repercussions as news traversed across the continent and into the rest of the world; she, having once graced magasines and been the centre of public adoration, became the antithesis of esteem.
One needn't follow Marion Jones's footsteps to understand the degree of shame she has apparently faced; there is no need to walk a mile in her shoes to comprehend the troubles she has endured – and will continue to – as she heads toward a new life one calculated choice at a time.
Jones mentioned on today's show that she has not yet mentioned to her first son, "Monty" (Tim), that she is due to prison when a bed and a spot opens up at a minimum-grade facility the Department of Corrections sees fit to place her (likely FPC Bryan in Texas).
"My husband and I have spoken about how we're going to go about doing that. I mean, as you can imagine, it's a very sensitive topic, and we're not dealing with a 15-year-old here who perceives things a different way. We're talking about a 4-year-old who was upset this morning that I couldn't drop him off at school, you know? It's going to be challenging."
It would appear that Marion Jones has nearly hit rock-bottom, but, unfortunately for those who adore her past any semblance of sanity, steeper and more brutal mountains lay ahead for Jones for Jones to climb up and over insofar as Jones is still harboring untruths about her past – current actions which have an even greater consequence on her future.
Oprah was unable to probe hard with Marion Jones rather than take a bleacher-seat approach to allowing Jones to hit the balls where she sees fit. Jones would have been better served today to speak freely to an audience which is still being misled by Jones's ambiguities and non-disclosures.
Then again, as stated yesterday, Jones faces a very formidable challenge as former trainer Trevor Graham's trial approaches.
What better way of communicating a message of personal freedom and release than to spill it all out for Oprah? Jones talked of loss, indecision, failure, reconciliation and of seeing her husband cry — all stuff made for a show such as Oprah's.
Oprah missed a step here, however, and Marion Jones stayed a step ahead — still in charge, still in demand, and still at centre stage.
The next stage Marion Jones will enter will be into the penal system as an inmate bearing khaki pants, a khaki top and prison issued shoes marking her as a newby.
(This is the final in a short series on Marion Jones which has been written to provide you a brief history on the person occupying most of the news this past week. The next report on this will be written once Jones has been entered into the facility she has been sent to serve her time).