- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 6, 2007

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Marion Jones, once described as the “fastest woman on earth,” yesterday admitted to using steroids. Fingerprinted and booked in U.S. District Court in White Plains, N.Y., she faces charges in connection with steroid use and for lying to federal investigators. The International Olympic Committee is readying to strip Jones of her medals: three gold and two bronze, won at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Jones has emphatically and indignantly denied the steroid charge for years. As she wrote in bright red, all-capital letters in her 2004 autobiography “Marion Jones: Life in the Fast Lane”: “I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN UNEQUIVOCAL IN MY OPINION: I AM AGAINST PERFORMANCE-ENHANCING DRUGS. I HAVE NEVER TAKEN THEM AND I NEVER WILL TAKE THEM.” This, it turns out, was a lie.

Jones always reserved harsh language and harsh action for doubters. She called the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency a “kangaroo court.” As though innocent, she filed a $25 million defamation lawsuit against the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (Balco) and its founder, Victor Conte, after Conte claimed he had given Jones illegal performance-enhancing substances. The suit was settled last year for an undisclosed amount.

Some question the seriousness of steroid abuse. Why should athletes’ personal choice to destroy their bodies matter? The answer, in addition to federal and sports-league prohibitions, is that young people adulate athletes. Jones and stars like her enjoy a significant public trust. Most of that trust comes from our children. When athletes cheat and then lie about it, they abuse that trust in a most reprehensible manner.

There is no more to it than that. The athlete’s public trust is corrupted by the original act of cheating, and even more so by the subsequent lies. And in the case of Marion Jones that cheating has tarnished five Olympic medals.


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