Monday, 8 October 2007

Confessions of Marion

"... Marion Jones will be remembered as one of the biggest frauds in sporting history."

Is this phrase, by IAAF president Lamine Diack, one that we should be getting used to?

Is that formulation going to become as bland a superlative as what one hears in the Denver, Colorado media, at the annual occasion of a first heavy blizzard in the Rockies? "I can assure you that there has never been a snowstorm of this intensity in the last [.....] years!"

Thus spaketh Marion (from the New York Times):
“It is with a great amount of shame that I stand before you and tell you that I have betrayed your trust.... You have the right to be angry with me. ... I have let my country down and I have let myself down.”

And the International Association of Athletic Federations, from the Associated Press (via GoogleNews):

IAAF president Lamine Diack said Saturday he was "deeply disappointed" with the news that Jones had admitted to taking banned drugs when she won three Olympic golds and two bronze medals in 2000.

"If she had trusted to her own natural gifts and allied them to self sacrifice and hard work I sincerely believe that she could have been an honest champion at the Sydney Games," Diack said in a statement. "Now, instead, Marion Jones will be remembered as one of the biggest frauds in sporting history.

"A lot of people believed in the achievements of Marion Jones and this confession leaves a bitter taste, and tarnishes the image of a sport in which a majority of athletes are honest and clean..."

And the President of WADA, Mr Dick Pound, stated what he anticipated the IOC would do, when he chimed in:

WADA chairman Dick Pound said the hardest part of taking away Jones's medals will be turning over her 100 metre gold from the 2000 Sydney Olympics to runner-up Katerina Thanou of Greece, who recently completed a two-year doping ban.

"The IOC opened up a file on Jones after Sydney and we now have full admission, so I don't think it will take much time to respond," Pound told Reuters in a telephone interview. "There is an IOC executive board meeting in December and I'm sure the disciplinary board will make a recommendation and move quickly."


Pound, a former IOC vice president, said proceedings would likely begin with the USADA making its ruling.

WADA would only get involved if the IOC failed to act accordingly, he added.

+ + + + + +

After all is said and done, a confession will have proven two things: that the testing was not able to procure the truth in this case, and that confession did.

There is a growing weight on the conscience, and the consciousness of Athletes, as they see the shame, the expense and the self-afflicted wounds that derive both from doping, and when hidden truths are denied for years and years.

As was stated by Mr. Pound, the irony would be in awarding the Gold Medal to Greece's Katerina Thanou, whose two-year ban has already ended.

Enter the PARADOX again: how would anyone know if Thanou was or was not clean in 2000? Maybe as a clean runner-up, she realized (or was convinced, alone or through outside influence?) that her only choice was to 'join the club', and enter the downward spiral that ended with her banishment after the Athens Olympics (for missing a control-appointment).

At crystelZENmud, this author wrote about the case of Bjarne Riis, whose confession about his EPO doping during the 1996 Tour de France had created this year's pre-Tour scandal. I applauded him for his honesty, while siding with most who felt that he should be punished in the most obvious way possible: returning his Yellow Jersey.

Two vastly different Athletes, from vastly different sports cultures, have now confessed to their fellow citizens, to the world, and to the authorities that control their sports, of their false acts.

But remember!

To dismiss them out-of-hand, to deny the cathartic relevance of healing through confession, and to dismiss them as the 'greatest sports frauds in history' (Is Pete Rose, the banished-for-Life American Baseball player, sleeping easier?), reveals a short-sightedness that is typical in the Sporting world, and especially with those who now control the anti-doping world.

Confession proves more than testing: support it. Chastise firmly, do what must be done, but USE THEM! Bring them to see teenagers, make them wallow a bit in their suffering, as they habituate themselves to their new non-status, tis they who could be the beacons of reinforcement, to the minds of the young and the wavering, and their Parents, and Coaches.

+ + + + + +

One word of caution though, from WADAwatch: Dick Pound had stated (see article reference above):

"WADA would only get involved if the IOC failed to act accordingly...."

Can not one action in the Sporting world go by, without Mr Pound's incessant reminders of WADA's power and menacing insinuations? If only he'd completed his thought, so we could write with a bit more effervescence!



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