Performance Analysis

And The Oscar Goes To…

…Marion Jones! For years now Marion Jones has been denying allegations that she had some chemical assistance in her 5 medal Olympic campaign 7 years ago in Sydney and boy did she have people fooled; excluding myself of course. I was a huge fan of hers, but the facts spoke for themselves. Going all the way back to the saga with her first husband, C.J. Hunter, who was caught using steroids there was: the money laundering/check fraud/ BALCO issues that she’s in trouble for now, the fact that the father of her first child (Tim Montgomery) was also caught using steroids, her performances being magnitudes worse than what she displayed at the Olympics and finally the fact that her then coach, Trevor Graham has had quite a few athletes test positive for steroid use. I won’t even get into how this version of her story is dubious at best. We know that people aren’t guilty by association and they’re certainly innocent until proven otherwise but, to have two ‘significant others’ test positive for steroid use seems to be a little beyond coincidence. I mean, “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me” right? And no, the fact that she had a child was not a good excuse for her performance level dropping since a large number of women come back to track and field after giving birth and often perform even better than before; ala Evelyn Ashford. So I hate to say ‘I told you so’ but…I told you so.

I would make note of the huge amount of behind the scenes PR/life-planning type work that Jones’ agent and lawyers now have to deal with but I don’t think Charlie Wells, her agent of several years, has time to worry about such issues seeing as he plead guilty to the role he played in that same bank fraud fiasco. What will become of Marion though? First, she made a smart decision to retire from track and field. She was making some strides (no pun intended) last year as she attempted to regain her form but at this point there seems to be little place in the sport for her. Not just because she used drugs, since first offenders usually get a suspension of a couple years or so and she would theoretically be able to come back, but I’m sure her lies have alienated both fans and the powers that be within the sport (meet directors and sponsors being the most influential). It’s likely that she’ll get the same sort of approximately half year prison sentencing that Martha Stewart got, so while her coming forward will likely help her minimize her sentence it seems like she’ll be doing time. She is also apparently broke though, so I can’t help but scratch my head as I think about how she’ll get by now that she’s no longer competing and has betrayed so many people. Perhaps she could become a high school track coach like former world record holder and fellow Trevor Graham protégé, Justin Gatlin which would be quite the fall from grace. And whether or not you feel that she should forfeit her medals is another issue altogether.

I don’t believe at all that the world-wide popularity of athletics will take the hit that most expect it to but that’s an issue for another post. Regardless, it seems that there is very little that can be done to quell the anticipation that this Olympics in particular has been building. And just as with summer Olympics past, track and field, gymnastics and swimming will still steal the show.

-Samyr Laine