Redemption. Learning. Becoming a better human being through competition – even after an athlete has strayed from the path of fair competition, realized his or her mistakes, and decided to re-enter sport as a clean athlete as an example to others.
It sounds pie-in-the-sky and perhaps horribly naive, considering the doping scandals of the last four years – BALCO, U.S. baseball, the Tour de France, Marion Jones, and all the rest. But when somebody stands up and says “I made a mistake – and now I want to be one of the good guys,” it’s high time to listen, and support that vision.
Today’s New York Times includes the story of British cyclist David Millar, who has walked this path. Caught doping with EPO during an illustrious cycling career that included stage wins at the Tour de France, he now rides for the Slipstream/Chipotle team, which has taken perhaps the strongest anti-doping stance any professional team has ever taken, monitoring its athletes 24/7 and getting them to buy into the idea that a clean athlete is the only kind of athlete who will be able to save cycling after the revelations of doping in the past few years, including at this year’s Tour, that have pushed the sport to the brink.
Disgraced rider and new U.S. team take the lead against doping (New York Times)
From today’s China Daily: word from IOC president Jacques Rogge that only “clean” athletes will be considered for receiving a medal upgrade from Marion Jones’ vacated competition results.
Rogge: Only ‘clean’ athletes will get Marion Jones’ medals (China Daily)
The BALCO scandal (European version) continues…
Greek sprinters and coach deny BALCO links (Reuters India)
Kelli White continues to speak out against doping, more than four years after failing a test for modafinil at the 2003 world track and field championships in Paris. She remains the only athlete ensnared in the BALCO scandal to have taken the opportunity to publicly combat doping in sports. The International Herald Tribune reports on her recent speech to the 2007 Anti-Doping Conference in Louisville, KY.
White spreads anti-doping gospel (International Herald Tribune)
World’s fastest female had guilty secret (Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal)
Press clips from today run the gamut from the latest LeBron James news out of China (where basketball is amazingly popular) to news of WADA recommending automatic four-year competition bans for first-time doping offenders, to controversy over Australia’s plans for future funding of Olympic sports.
Cavs star LeBron James looms large in Shanghai for NBA and Nike (The Canadian Press)
Four-year ban for doping (Daily Telegraph, Australia)
Olympics cash down to survival of fittest (The Age, Australia)
Olympic sports told medals key to funding (Herald Sun, Australia)
Jearl Miles, a five-time Olympian for the United States and a member of relay teams on which Marion Jones also participated, has released a statement through her agent regarding Jones’ confession last week to using performance-enhancing drugs. Below is the statement in its entirety as it was emailed to members of the track and field media earlier today.
Jearl Miles Clark
Olympic Gold Medalist
â€I am releasing the following statement to the press as my response to the many request for interviews:
I am upset and chagrined about the entire drug situation. I defended Marion against critics and said that I wouldnâ€™t believe she had taken performance enhancing drugs unless she said it herself. Well, the other day she admitted it and the reality of the situation has to be dealt with.
My immediate thought is that this is bad for athletes like myself, who are truly clean and run outstanding times. I feel that everyone will suspect us of cheating and look at us with a jaundiced eye.
Concerning the medals, I donâ€™t know what will happen.
Whatever the out come, I have my familyâ€™s love and support and the Olympic spirit will always be in my heart. These can never be taken away.
Marion may face charges for lying to federal agents and for using performance enhancing drugs. She made mistakes and now has to pay for them. Unfortunately, others may pay for those mistakes too.â€
Jearl Miles Clark
Five Time Olympian
“I searched through rebellion, drugs, diets, mysticism, religions, intellectualism and much more, only to begin to find…that truth is basically simple – and feels good, clean and right.”
– Chick Corea (1941-) American Jazz Musician
One of these days I’m going to sit down and write it all out: the journey from innocence to knowledge (and the fight to keep from going from knowledge to cynicism) that I’ve experienced in the world of track and field. It’s been a huge part of my professional life for the past seven and a half years, and still the news of Marion Jones and the reality of what has happened has yet to really sink in. It’s dangerous to write at a time when personal frustration is so high. I didn’t have a close relationship with Marion as some other writers did, and still there is a very personal pain in realizing that all of us, whether writers, other sports professionals, or simply fans of the sport, have been deceived.
Today I wondered how Ron Rapoport, the author of “See How She Runs,” Jones’ biography, was feeling, and I didn’t have to look far: he’s written this insightful piece for the Los Angeles Times on the rise and fall of Marion Jones. It’s hard not to read between the lines of this piece to sense the personal toll it takes on the sport’s writers and close observers when we are deceived so completely by the people we trust to be telling us the truth.
Marion Jones owes a public apology to Travis Tygart and everyone at USADA for calling them a “secret kangaroo court” when they were professionals doing their jobs – and, by the way, when they were 100% right about their suspicions – and their evidence against her. See what I mean about it being a bad idea to write when you’re still hurting from a grave deception? There will be much, much more to say in the run-up to 2008 about the Olympics and drug use, and I hope that for the sake of the sport of track and field, every athlete who has ever doped (are you listening, Ekaterini Thanou?) simply comes forward and tells the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. It’s for the sake of the sport’s future, and for all of the young athletes who need to learn it over and over again: Cheaters never win. And sometimes they take a whole lot of unsuspecting people down with them before they fall.
Marion Jones’ drug admission, Day Two. Links below to the standout articles I’ve seen today:
Jones’ plea might shift case to Bonds (San Jose Mercury News)
Knapp: Olympic winner Marion Jones now loser after doping plea (San Francisco Chronicle)
Golden girl of 2000 Olympics quits after drug admission (The Independent, UK)
Jones admits to lying about steroid use (Los Angeles Times)
Marion Jones drags others into selfish, steroid mess (New York Daily News) CSB Editor’s Note: This is the first writer I’ve seen bring up the issue of the 2004 Olympic women’s 4×100 relay team and what the fates of Jones’ team members would have been if Jones hadn’t botched the baton pass to Lauryn Williams and they had subsequently won a medal with a tainted teammate. While I don’t want to dwell in the negativity around those who would dismiss Jones unequivocally as a liar who deserves the worst, Filip Bondy of the Daily News has some good points to make about the extent of Jones’ selfish actions in trying to avoid admitting her steroid use before she finally confessed.
Ekaterini Thanou in line for Marion Jones’ gold (The Daily Telegraph, UK)
IAAF head: Jones will go down as a fraud (Associated Press)
IAAF statement on Marion Jones (Friday, October 5) (IAAF.org)
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