Marion Jones

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Marion Jones
Marion Jones Sydney 2000.JPEG
Marion Jones at the 2000 Olympics
Personal information
Born (1975-10-12) October 12, 1975 (age 46)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Height5 ft 10 in (178 cm) [1]
Weight150 lb (68 kg) [1]
Sport
Country United States
Sport Track and field
Event(s) 100 meters, 200 meters, long jump
Medal record
Women's athletics
Representing Flag of the United States.svg  United States
Olympic Games
Disqualified 2000 Sydney 100 m
Disqualified 2000 Sydney 200 m
Disqualified 2000 Sydney 4x400 m relay
Disqualified 2000 Sydney 4x100 m relay
Disqualified 2000 Sydney Long jump
World Championships
Gold medal icon (G initial).svg 1997 Athens 100 m
Gold medal icon (G initial).svg 1997 Athens 4x100 m relay
Gold medal icon (G initial).svg 1999 Seville 100 m
Bronze medal icon (B initial).svg 1999 Seville Long jump
Disqualified 2001 Edmonton 100 m
Disqualified 2001 Edmonton 200 m
Disqualified 2001 Edmonton 4x100m relay [lower-alpha 1]
Continental Cup
Gold medal icon (G initial).svg 1998 Johannesburg 100 m
Gold medal icon (G initial).svg 1998 Johannesburg 200 m
Goodwill Games
Gold medal icon (G initial).svg 1998 Uniondale 100 m
Gold medal icon (G initial).svg 1998 Uniondale 200 m
Disqualified 2001 Brisbane 100 m

Marion Lois Jones (born October 12, 1975), also known as Marion Jones-Thompson, is a Belizean-American former world champion track and field athlete and former professional basketball player. She won three gold medals and two bronze medals at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, but was later stripped of her medals after admitting to steroid use. [2] [3] Jones did retain her 3 titles as world champion from 1997 to 1999.

Contents

At the time of her admission and subsequent guilty plea, Jones was one of the most famous athletes to be linked to the BALCO scandal. [4] The case against BALCO covered more than 20 top level athletes, including Jones's ex-husband, shot putter C.J. Hunter, and 100 m sprinter Tim Montgomery, the father of Jones's first child.

Personal life

Marion Jones was born to George Jones and his wife, Marion, (originally from Belize) in Los Angeles, California. She holds dual citizenship with the United States and Belize. [5] Her parents split when she was very young, and Jones's mother remarried a retired postal worker, Ira Toler, three years later. Toler became a stay-at-home dad to Jones and her older half-brother, Albert Kelly, until his sudden death in 1987. [6] Jones turned to sports as an outlet for her grief; running, pickup basketball games, and anything else her brother Albert was doing athletically. [6] By the age of 15, she was routinely dominating California high school athletics both on the track and the basketball court.

Jones is a 1997 graduate of the University of North Carolina (UNC). While there, she met and began dating one of the track coaches, shot putter C.J. Hunter. Hunter voluntarily resigned his position at UNC to comply with the requirements of university rules prohibiting coach-athlete dating. Jones and Hunter were married on October 3, 1998, and trained for the Sydney 2000 Summer Olympics.

In the run-up to the 2000 Olympics, Jones declared that she intended to win gold medals in all five of her competition events at Sydney. Jones's husband, C.J. Hunter, had withdrawn from the shot-put competition for a knee injury, though he was allowed to keep his coaching credentials and attend the games to support his wife. However, just hours after Marion Jones won her first of the planned five golds, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that Hunter had failed four pre-Olympic drug tests, testing positive each time for the banned anabolic steroid nandrolone. Hunter was immediately suspended from taking any role at the Sydney games, and he was ordered to surrender his on-field coaching credentials. At a press conference where Hunter broke down in tears, he denied taking any performance-enhancing drugs, much less the easily detected nandrolone (which showed up in all four tests in amounts over 1,000 times normal levels); [7] Victor Conte of BALCO, who was regularly supplying "nutritional supplements" to athletes trained by Trevor Graham, blamed the test results on "an iron supplement" that contained nandrolone precursors [5] and tied previous positive nandrolone tests from Jamaican sprinter Merlene Ottey and British sprinter Linford Christie to the same supplement. [7] As late as 2004, Hunter was still denying the charges and attempting to gain access to the results to see if they could be analyzed further. [8] Jones would later write in her autobiography, Marion Jones: Life in the Fast Lane, that Hunter's positive drug tests hurt their marriage and her image as a drug-free athlete. The couple divorced in 2002.

On June 28, 2003, Jones gave birth to a son, Tim Montgomery Jr, with then-boyfriend Tim Montgomery, a world-class sprinter himself. [9] Because of her pregnancy, Jones missed the 2003 World Championships but spent a year preparing for the 2004 Olympics. Montgomery, who did not qualify for the 2004 Olympic Track and Field team for poor performance, was charged by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), as part of the investigation into the BALCO doping scandal, with receiving and using banned performance-enhancing drugs. The USADA sought a four-year suspension for Montgomery. Montgomery fought the ban but lost the appeal on December 13, 2005, receiving a two-year ban from track and field competition; the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) also stripped Montgomery of all race results, records and medals, from March 31, 2001, onward. Montgomery later announced his retirement. The investigation into Montgomery's illegal substance use once more called into question Jones's own protests about not using steroids and never having been tested positive for steroids, especially in light of former trainer Trevor Graham's increasingly visible role in the BALCO case.

On February 24, 2007, Jones married Barbadian sprinter and 2000 Olympic 100m bronze medalist Obadele Thompson. [10] Their first child together, a son named Ahmir, was born in June 2007. [11] She gave birth to daughter Eva-Marie on June 28, 2009. [12]

In 2010, Jones released a book, On the Right Track: From Olympic Downfall to Finding Forgiveness and the Strength to Overcome and Succeed, published by Simon & Schuster. [13]

Sports career

Track and field

In high school, Jones won the CIF California State Meet in the 100 m sprint four years in a row, representing Rio Mesa the first two years and Thousand Oaks high school the last two. She was successfully defended by attorney Johnnie Cochran on charges of doping during her high school track career. [14] She was selected the Gatorade Player of the Year for track and field three years in a row, once at Rio Mesa and twice at Thousand Oaks. Angela Burnham preceded her with the award at Rio Mesa, Kim Mortensen followed her with the award at Thousand Oaks. Those schools joined Jesuit High School (Sacramento) and Long Beach Polytechnic High School in having two athletes win the award. She was Track and Field News "High School Athlete of the Year" in 1991 and 1992. She was the third female athlete to achieve the title twice, immediately following Angela Burnham at Rio Mesa High School, who was the second to achieve the title twice. [15]

She was invited to participate in the 1992 Olympic trials, and, after her showing in the 200 meters finals, would have made the team as an alternate in the 4×100 meters relay, but she declined the invitation. After winning further statewide sprint titles, she accepted a full scholarship to the University of North Carolina in basketball, where she helped the team win the NCAA championship in her freshman year. Jones "red shirted" her 1996 basketball season to concentrate on track. Jones lost her spot on the 1996 Olympic team because of an injury.

Marion Jones (far left) during the 1999 World Championships Tgalindo-100sevilla99.jpg
Marion Jones (far left) during the 1999 World Championships

She excelled at her first major international competition, winning the 100 m sprint at the 1997 World Championships in Athens, while finishing 10th in the long jump. At the 1999 World Championships, Jones attempted to win four titles, but injured herself in the 200 m after a gold in the 100 m and a long jump bronze.

At the Sydney Olympics, Jones finished with three gold medals (100- and 200-meter sprint, and 4 × 400 m relay) and two bronze medals (long jump and 4 × 100 m relay). However, she was later stripped of these medals after admitting that she had used performance-enhancing drugs. Her ex-husband Hunter, an Olympic shot-putter and confessed steroid user, testified under oath that he had seen her inject drugs into her stomach in the Olympic Village in Sydney. Jones vehemently denied using performance-enhancing drugs until her confession in 2007.

A dominant force in women's sprinting, Jones was upset in the 100 m sprint at the 2001 World Championships, as Ukrainian Zhanna Pintusevich-Block beat her for her first loss in the event in six years; Pintusevich-Block was one of the names revealed by Victor Conte during the BALCO scandals. Jones, however, did claim the gold in both the 200 m and 4x100 m relay.

On her 2004 Olympics experience, Jones said "It's extremely disappointing, words can't put it into perspective." [16] She came in fifth in the Long Jump and competed in the women's 4x100 m relay where the team swept past the competition in the preliminaries only to miss a baton pass and finish last in the final race. Jones promised that her latest defeat would not be the end of her Olympic efforts, and reasserted in May 2005 that winning a gold medal at the 2008 Olympics remained her "ultimate goal."

May 2006 saw Jones run 11.06 at altitude but into a headwind in her season debut and beat Veronica Campbell and Lauryn Williams in subsequent 100 m events. By July 8, 2006, Jones appeared to be in top form; she won the 100 m sprint at Gaz de France with a time of 10.93 seconds. It was her fastest time in almost four years. Three days later, Jones once more improved on her seasonal best time at the Rome IIAF Golden League (10.91 seconds), but lost to Jamaica's Sherone Simpson, who clocked 10.87.

Personal bests

DateEventVenuePerformance
September 12, 1998100 m Johannesburg, South Africa 10.65A
August 22, 1999100 m Seville, Spain 10.70
September 11, 1998200 m Johannesburg, South Africa 21.62A
August 13, 1997200 m Zürich, Switzerland 21.76
April 22, 2001300 m Walnut, California 35.68
April 16, 2000400 mWalnut, California49.59
May 31, 1998Long Jump Eugene, Oregon 7.31 (23' 11¾")

Individual achievements

YearCompetitionVenuePositionEventNotes
Representing the Flag of the United States.svg  United States
1992 World Junior Championships Seoul, South Korea 5th100m 11.58 (wind: +0.3 m/s)
7th200m 24.09 (wind: +0.3 m/s)
2nd4 × 100 m relay 44.51
1997 IAAF World Championships Athens, Greece 1st100 m10.83
10thLong Jump6.63 m
1998IAAF World Cup Johannesburg, South Africa 1st100 m10.65A
1st200 m21.62A
2ndLong Jump7.00A (22' 11¾")
1999 IAAF World Championships Sevilla, Spain 1st100 m10.70
3rdLong Jump6.83 (22 ft 5 in)
2000 2000 Summer Olympics Sydney, Australia dq100 m10.75
dq200 m21.84
dqLong Jump6.92 (22' 8½")
2001 IAAF World Championships Edmonton, Canada dq100 m10.85
dq200 m22.39
2002IAAF World Cup Madrid, Spain dq100 m10.90
  • The IOC and IAAF stripped Jones of all medals, points and results received after September 1, 2000, after she admitted to using performance-enhancing steroids prior to the 2000 Summer Olympics. [17]

North Carolina statistics

Source [18]

Legend
  GPGames played  GS Games started MPG Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage 3P%  3-point field goal percentage FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game APG  Assists per game SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game PPG Points per game Bold Career high
YearTeamGPPointsFG%3P%FT%RPGAPGSPGBPGPPG
93-94North Carolina3549452.9%28.0%71.3%4.13.03.20.814.1
94-95North Carolina3562852.5%29.8%65.5%5.04.83.50.917.9
95-96North Carolina redshirt
96-97North Carolina3259453.6%26.7%65.7%4.74.13.10.618.6
Career102171653.0%28.4%67.0%4.64.03.30.816.8

WNBA

Marion Jones
Personal information
Born (1975-10-12) October 12, 1975 (age 46)
Los Angeles, California
Listed height5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Listed weight150 lb (68 kg)
Career information
High school Thousand Oaks
(Thousand Oaks, California)
College North Carolina (1993–1997)
WNBA draft 2003 / Round: 3 / Pick: 33rd overall
Selected by the Phoenix Mercury
Playing career2010–2011
Position Point guard
Number20
Career history
2010–2011 Tulsa Shock
Career highlights and awards

In November 2009, Jones was working out for the San Antonio Silver Stars of the WNBA. She had played basketball while in college at the University of North Carolina, where her team won the national championship in 1994. Her No. 20 jersey, honored by the school, hangs in Carmichael Auditorium. She had been selected in the 3rd round of the 2003 WNBA Draft by the Phoenix Mercury. [19] On March 10, 2010, the Tulsa Shock announced that Jones had signed to play with the team, making the professional minimum (about $35,000) in her first season. [20] Jones made her debut on May 15, in the Shock's inaugural game at the BOK Center against the Minnesota Lynx. [21] In 47 WNBA games, Jones averaged 2.6 points and 1.3 rebounds per game.

Jones was waived by the Shock on July 21, 2011. [22]

Top Speed film

Jones appears in the 2003 film Top Speed, along with other speed specialists such as racing driver Lucas Luhr, mountain biker Marla Streb, and Porsche Cayenne designer Stephen Murkett. Directed by Greg MacGillivray and shot in IMAX format, the film covers details from races to mistakes she made within her performances.

Use of illicit performance-enhancing drugs

Throughout most of her athletic career including two Olympiads and several championship meets, Jones had been accused, either outright or by implication, of taking performance-enhancing drugs. These accusations began in high school in the early 1990s, when she missed a random drug test and was consequently banned for four years from track and field competition. Jones claimed that she never received the letter notifying her of the required test; and attorney Johnnie Cochran successfully got the four-year ban overturned. [5] Jones tended to train with both coaches and athletes who themselves were dogged by rumors and accusations surrounding performance-enhancing drugs. And until 2007, Jones denied—in almost every way possible and in almost any venue where the question arose—ever being involved with performance enhancers in any way. She frequently said that she had never tested positive for performance-enhancing substances; in her autobiography, she blamed the 2002 breakup of her marriage to C.J. Hunter in part on the fact that Hunter had tested positive for steroids four times before the 2000 Olympics, tainting her own drug-free image.

BALCO investigation

On December 3, 2004, Victor Conte, the founder of BALCO, appeared in an interview with Martin Bashir on ABC's 20/20 . In the interview, Conte told a national audience that he had personally given Jones four different illegal performance-enhancing drugs before, during, and after the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. In the course of investigative research, San Francisco based reporters Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada reported Jones had received banned drugs from BALCO, citing documentary evidence and testimony from Jones's ex-husband C.J. Hunter, who claims to have seen Jones inject herself in the stomach with the steroids. [23]

According to Hunter's 2004 testimony before a federal grand jury, Jones's use of banned drugs began well before Sydney. [24] Hunter told the investigators that Jones first obtained EPO (Erythropoietin) from Graham, who Hunter said had a Mexican connection for the drug. Later, Hunter said, Graham met Conte, who began providing the coach with BALCO "nutritional supplements", which were actually an experimental class of "designer" steroids said to be undetectable by any drug screening procedures available at the time. Graham then distributed the performance enhancers to Jones and other Sprint Capitol athletes. Still later, Hunter told federal agents, Jones began receiving drugs directly from Conte.

Jones had never failed a drug test using the then-existing testing procedures, and insufficient evidence was found to bring charges regarding other untested performance-enhancing drugs.

2006 EPO tests

The Washington Post , citing unidentified sources with knowledge of drug results from the USA Track and Field Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana, reported that on June 23, 2006, an "A" sample of Marion Jones's urine tested positive for Erythropoietin (EPO), a banned performance enhancer. Jones withdrew from the Weltklasse Golden League meet in Switzerland, citing "personal reasons", and once more denied using performance-enhancing drugs. She retained lawyer Howard Jacobs, who had represented many athletes in doping cases, including Tim Montgomery and cyclist Floyd Landis. On September 6, 2006, Jones's lawyers announced that her "B" sample had tested negative, which cleared her from the doping allegations.

Admission of lying during BALCO investigation

On October 5, 2007, Jones admitted to lying to federal agents under oath about her steroids use prior to the 2000 Summer Olympics and pleaded guilty at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York (in White Plains). [4] She confessed to Judge Kenneth M. Karas that she had made false statements regarding the BALCO and a check-fraud case. She was released on her own recognizance but was required to surrender both her U.S. and Belizean passports, pending sentencing in January. Although a maximum sentence of 5 years could be imposed, the prosecution recommended no more than 6 months as part of Jones's plea bargain. [25]

After her admission, Jones held a press conference, where she publicly admitted to using steroids before the Sydney 2000 Summer Olympics and acknowledged that she had, in fact, lied when she previously denied steroid use in statements to the press, to various sports agencies, and to two grand juries. One was impaneled to investigate the BALCO "designer steroid" ring, and the other was impaneled to investigate a check fraud ring involving many of the same parties from the BALCO case. As a result of these admissions, Jones accepted a two-year suspension from track and field competition issued by USADA, and announced her retirement from track and field on October 5, 2007. [4] She broke down into tears during the press conference as she tearfully apologized, saying: "And so it is with a great amount of shame that I stand before you and tell you that I have betrayed your trust...and you have the right to be angry with me. I have let them down. I have let my country down. And I have let myself down." [25]

USADA stated that their sanction "also requires disqualification of all her competitive results obtained after September 1, 2000, and forfeiture of all medals, results, points and prizes". On January 11, 2008, Jones was sentenced to 6 months in jail. [4] She began her sentence on March 7, 2008, [26] and was released on September 5, 2008. [27]

In the BALCO case, she had denied to federal agents her use of the steroid Tetrahydrogestrinone, known as "The Clear", or "THG", from 1999, but claimed she was given the impression she was taking a flaxseed oil supplement for two years while coach Trevor Graham supplied her with the substance. In a published letter, Jones said she had used steroids until she stopped training with Graham at the end of 2002. She said she lied when federal agents questioned her in 2003 because she panicked when they presented her with a sample of "The Clear". [28]

U.S. Olympic Committee demands return of Olympic medals

Peter Ueberroth, Chairman of the US Olympic Committee, reacted to the news of Jones's confession and guilty plea on perjury charges by issuing a statement calling on Jones to "immediately step forward and return the Olympic medals she won while competing in violation of the rules". Ueberroth added that her admission was "long overdue and underscores the shame and dishonor that are inherent with cheating." IAAF president Lamine Diack said in a statement that, "Marion Jones will be remembered as one of the biggest frauds in sporting history." [29]

On October 8, 2007, a source confirmed that Marion Jones surrendered her five medals from the 2000 Summer Olympics. [3] On the same day, Ueberroth said that all the relay medals should be returned, [30] and on April 10, 2008, the IOC voted to strip Jones' relay teammates of their medals as well, [31] although this decision would successfully be appealed by seven of Jones' teammates and overturned in 2010. [32]

Formal IOC disqualification

On December 12, 2007, the IOC formally stripped Jones of all five Olympic medals dating back to September 2000, and banned her from attending the 2008 Summer Olympics in any capacity. [2] The IOC action also officially disqualified Jones from her fifth-place finish in the Long Jump at the 2004 Summer Olympics. [2]

On October 28, 2008, Jones was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey and stated that she would have won gold at the Sydney Olympics without the drugs that led to her disgrace. [33] [34]

Financial troubles

Seven years after winning a women's record five Olympic track and field medals and receiving multimillion-dollar endorsement deals, Jones was broke. [35] According to the Associated Press, Jones was heavily in debt and fighting off court judgments, according to court records reviewed by the Los Angeles Times . In 2006, a bank foreclosed on her $2.5-million mansion near Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where Michael Jordan was a neighbor. She was also forced to sell two other properties, including her mother's house, to raise money. In her prime, Jones was one of track's first female sports millionaires, typically earning between $70,000 and $80,000 a race, plus at least another $1 million from race bonuses and endorsement deals.

Involvement in check fraud

In July 2006, Jones was linked to a check-counterfeiting scheme that led to criminal charges against her coach and former boyfriend Montgomery. [36] Documents showed that a $25,000 check made out to Jones was deposited in her bank account as part of the alleged multimillion-dollar scheme. Prosecutors alleged that funds were sent to Jones' track coach, 1976 Olympic gold medalist Steve Riddick, in Virginia, then funneled back to New York through a network of "friends, relatives and associates." [36] Riddick was arrested in February on money-laundering charges. According to the indictment and subsequent documents filed with the court, the link to Jones was made through one of Riddick's business partners, Nathaniel Alexander.

On October 5, 2007, Jones pleaded guilty to making false statements to IRS Special Agent Jeff Novitzky leading the ongoing BALCO investigation in California. Jones claimed she had never taken performance-enhancing drugs. "That was a lie, your honor," she said from the defense table. The federal government, through grand juries, had been investigating steroid abuse since 2003.

Jones also pleaded guilty to making false statements about her knowledge of a check-cashing scheme to New York U.S. Department of Homeland Security Special Agent Erik Rosenblatt, who has been leading a broad financial investigation that has already convicted Montgomery, sports agent Charles Wells, and her coach, Steve Riddick.

Criminal sentencing

Federal Medical Center, Carswell, where Jones was imprisoned CarswellFMCFortWorthTX.jpg
Federal Medical Center, Carswell, where Jones was imprisoned

Prosecutors told U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas that any sentence between probation and six months' imprisonment would be fair (with the maximum penalty being five years in prison); Karas responded by seeking advice as to whether he could go beyond the six-month sentence. Meanwhile, Jones's lawyers asked that her penalty be limited to probation and community service, arguing, in part, that she had been punished enough by apologizing publicly, retiring from track and field, and relinquishing her five Olympic medals.

On January 11, 2008, Karas sentenced Jones to six months in jail for her involvement in the check fraud case and her use of performance-enhancing drugs. During the sentencing hearing, the judge admonished her, saying that she knew what she was doing and would be punished accordingly. [37] "The offenses here are serious. They each involve lies made three years apart," Karas said, adding that Jones's actions were "not a one-off mistake...but a repetition in an attempt to break the law." [37]

Jones was ordered to surrender on March 15, 2008. She reported four days early, on March 11, at the Federal Medical Center, Carswell prison in Fort Worth and was assigned Federal Bureau of Prisons register no. 84868–054. [26] She was released from prison on September 5, 2008. [27]

Notes

  1. Teammate Kelli White was later found to have used performance-enhancing drugs and the IAAF disqualified the team.

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References

  1. 1 2 "Marion Jones". espn.com. ESPN . Retrieved November 15, 2017.
  2. 1 2 3 "IOC strips Jones of all 5 Olympic medals". MSNBC.com. Associated Press. December 12, 2007. Archived from the original on February 18, 2008. Retrieved March 7, 2010.
  3. 1 2 "Jones Returns 2000 Olympic Medals". Channel4.com. Archived from the original on June 27, 2009. Retrieved October 8, 2007.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Schmidt, Michael S.; Zinser, Lynn (October 5, 2007). "Jones Pleads Guilty to Lying About Drugs". The New York Times . Retrieved October 5, 2007.
  5. 1 2 3 Rowen, Beth; Ross, Shmuel; Olson, Liz (2007). "Marion Jones: Fastest Woman on Earth". InfoPlease Database. Retrieved February 10, 2008.
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