Saturday, October 6, 2007

Marion Jones admits truth -- 7 years too late

A few days ago -- before Marion Jones' bombshell guilty plea -- a certain athlete in a high profile sport made a rather interesting observation. Noting the suspension of one of his fellow teammates, he said that if that teammate had been tried in a court in the United States he would have been vindicated.

Found not guilty, perhaps -- not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. But vindicated? That first athlete is living in a glass menagerie. But his view isn't that off-base. After all, Americans have long believed it's only the "foreigners" that cheat at the Olympics and World Championships -- Americans are too good for that.

Well of course, most Americans do play by the rules. But some do cheat -- and they cheat because they believe they won't get caught. They time their regimen of "treatments" and go to places like BALCO to take masking drugs to ensure they have the upper edge.

On the one hand, it's good to see Jones take responsibility for her actions. The other, though ... she lied, and that's the point. When her former boyfriend Tim Montgomery was caught cheating suspicion naturally also turned to her; and while I support the principle there should not be guilt by association without evidential proof, one naturally had to wonder. The Sydney Games' track and field events were supposed to be the stage for Cathy Freeman, the Australian Aboriginal who broke a lot of barriers for her people and other natives. But Jones stole the show with three golds and two bronze -- not entirely unexpected to be fair but people hope the best will act the best.

Sorry, but the "I thought it was linseed oil" defence just doesn't cut it. And the sad part is that with a mandatory two year ban (which could be made even longer if the circumstances warrant) Jones has also been banned from other sports; including her first love, basketball. That means she can't even work as a sportscaster; and who'd want to hire her anyway, after lying over and over again?

At least NASCAR at least takes it seriously, finally -- one driver, Aaron Fike in the truck contest as well as his teammate and fiancée Cassandra Davidson, both got an indefinite suspension back in July for using heroin (which can also be performance enhancing). But the governing body's drug policy is still ad hoc, and not compliant with the WADA code; which calls for a minimum two year suspension on a first offence. Until leadership comes at the top and NASCAR and the Big Four team sports adopts the world code, athletes of a lesser stature will continue to risk they won't be humiliated like Jones was.

And in the process, set a bad role model for kids; and endanger their own lives.

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1 comment:

Kim Feraday said...

I assume you're talking about Lance Armstrong. Given the long list of teammates and adversaries that have either failed drug tests or been caught in doping rings (Puerto), Armstrong's continued criticism of WADA seems to be about seeding doubt to protect his own reputation.

His criticism was largely aimed at the panel which included only one American. His contention is that only Americans and the American justice system has the integrity and ethical foundation to reach a just conclusion. What arrogance.

You're absolutely right about American professional sports however. Doping policie for professional football, baseball and basketball are a joke. Hockey is worse. This is creating a drug culture that is endemic at all levels of sport -- a 2005 survey of California high school athletes found that about 6% of them (20,000) had used performance enhancing drugs in the past year.

In the meantime expect more lying and denial by athletes like Jones until they have absolutely no choice.