That was the punchline of a joke that Chris Rock made when I recently saw him at the Hard Rock in Hollywood, Florida. It came at the end of a classic Rock anti-terrorism, pro-steroids rant about the ongoing athletic witch hunt. The crowd roared with laughter, and Chris Rock got his overall point across — that the government should be spending its time finding terrorists and investigating more serious crimes than steroid abuse by athletes. The punchline lingered with me. Remember Marion Jones in her prime? Wow. During the 2000 Sydney Olympics, she won five gold medals and I know I’m not the only one who was a fan of hers. She was a larger than life Olympic heroine.
I bet she never in a million years thought she would be a punchline. I bet she never dreamed she’d wind up broke, shamed, and serving a prison sentence.
Marion Jones cheated and lied. After years of denial, she admitted it. Now she’s pleading for a commutation of her six month prison sentence.
Top ranking track and field official Doug Logan opposed her request in a strongly worded letter to the President, which partially reads as follows:
“To reduce Ms. Jones’ sentence or pardon her would send a horrible message to young people who idolized her, reinforcing the notion that you can cheat and be entitled to get away with it,” Logan continues. “A pardon would also send the wrong message to the international community. Few things are more globally respected than the Olympic Games, and to pardon one of the biggest frauds perpetuated on the Olympic movement would be nothing less than thumbing our collective noses at the world.”
Despite it all, I do feel sorry for Marion Jones. I look at the images of her crying before the cameras, and still remember this, when she held the world in her palm (while rocking some fly cornrows, I might add). I wonder what this year’s fine crop of female Olympians think of the mess she’s in. Do athletes look at admitted steroids users as scum of the earth, or in the back of their minds do they feel a twinge of sympathy?
I wonder what will happen to Marion Jones, when she’s eventually released. What do you do, when you’ve destroyed your own life and you have to start over again?
I’d love to hear your opinion on Marion Jones. Is Doug Logan right? Or do you think her sentence should be commuted?