Jones-ing for “The Clear.”

In mourning?

I don’t think disgraced track star Marion Jones-Thompson, above, was entirely forthcoming during her one-on-one appearance, yesterday, on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Her answer, to the question of whether she knew other athletes who used steroids, had the rigid-body, I’m-trying-to-look-you-straight-in-the-eye, caught-off-guard-muted quality of a lie.

Sorry, fellas. Now, get over it.Furthermore, her non-apologetic apology to her Sydney 2000 Olympics, 1600-meter relay gold-winning teammates—l-r, La Tasha Colander-Richardson, Jearl Miles-Clark, and Monique Hennagan, with Jones, right—all of whom had to suffer the indignity of having their medals returned and names also stricken from the record books for that achievment, on the basis of Jones boosting tetrahydrogestrinone, was disgraceful and stingy, absent of regret. If I were any of these three women and watching Oprah that day, I’d have probably cursed her, then aimed a cleated track shoe at the TV…just before catching myself and remembering that plasmas aren’t cheap.

Even more, when you look at Jones’s tear-ridden, October 2007 confession/press conference, her boo-hoo-hoo-ing doesn’t really seem in balance with her story; that the specific lie she told to investigators was that she didn’t know what the Clear was, when, in fact, she did. (She also lied in a check scandal).

“WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!”In other words, she wasn’t weeping and wailing about knowingly taking steroids in order to win. She was crying because she lied about knowing what the substance was. On Oprah, she says she never did know she was taking steroids. She said she thought she was taking flaxseed oil.

I don’t know if she’s lying about that, of course. But somebody else says he does, and that’s Victor Conte, the head of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO, the company which made the illegal substance for, it’s now known, dozens of pro athletes.

“Please believe me.”On Oprah, Winfrey, right, with Jones-Thompson, showed her a segment of the news show 20/20, on which Conte claimed to have injected Jones-Thompson himself . Oprah then asked her, “Was he lying?”

“He was lying,” Jones-Thomspon replied.

“Why would he lie?”, asked Oprah.

“Need a fix?”Jones-Thompson said. “There are lots of reasons why people lie…. I don’t know specifically why he would lie.”

In a statement, run on The L.A. Times‘ “The Fabulous Forum” sports blog, yesterday, Conte, right, had this to say:

“I cannot believe Marion Jones continues to lie. Enough is enough. She knowingly used performance enhancing drugs and has already been to prison for lying about it in the first place.

“In April 2001, during the Mt. San Antonio College Relays in Walnut, California, I sat down with Marion Jones in my hotel room at the Embassy Suites in West Covina. I showed her something I had brought with me called a Novopen. It was a cartridge injector pen that contained 45 units of Norditropin growth hormone. The injector contained enough liquid for ten injections.

“I instructed her how to inject herself with 4.5 units of growth hormone and told her to follow the same protocol three times per week. I taught her to change the needle, dial up the dosage, disperse any air in the chamber, and inject the drug. When she left my room, she took the Novopen with her so she could administer her own injections thereafter.”

What’s ill about Conte’s statement is that it has the specificity of truth. Of course, he injected so many athletes he could just be reciting boilerplate.

Place under FICTION.The only thing that’s certain is that Jones-Thompson’s running career is over. Even she said that, on Oprah. However, a couple of times—and Oprah really failed to follow this up, perhaps because she was on an unusually tight schedule for this interview—Jones-Thompson hinted at her sense of personal emptiness, her insecurities, the internal void that, during her track career, she covered with medals, because she felt that, if people saw the real her, they’d feel nothing but contempt. I got the sense of a whole story there that I really wanted to see explored.

Now, though, as Jones-Thompson also admits, her future is going to be one without the shield of The Winning Athlete, so triumphantly rendered, for example, on the cover of her 2004 autobiography, Marion Jones: Life in the Fast Lane, above right. (A hardcover, “like new” copy can be had for 25 cents on

Instead, what she can expect are many days and years where Marion Jones-Thompson, herself, is laid bare, warts and all, absent accomplishment. From this point forward, her calling card won’t be her gold medals or records, which she no longer possesses, but merely her. “What is she like?” “Do we like her?” In my opinion, she should begin practicing for this new role with her former teammates.

“Now what?”Of course, as in sports, people have long been known to compensate for personality shortcomings with drugs, too. Some get a fairly long run doing this. But something tells me, Marion, that you don’t wanna go there.



#1 Belgrave on 10.30.08 at 6:12 pm

I agree. Something seemed off with her interview… like she had been heavily prepped for it instead of just coming off as someone who was honestly answering questions. Also, the way she kept addressing Oprah by name.. “Oprah, I cant tell you this…”…. “Oprah, if I could have just taken a break from the questioning.” It just had the air of someone who was trying to force a false sense of insincerity.

Also, her apology to her relay teammates was shockingly feeble. I was already doubting her honesty by this point in the interview but this truly confounded me. If you are somebody trying to do this interview to put yourself in a better public light… even if you are lying…. don’t you know that in order to achieve this that you MUST give your teammates the grandest of apologies in order to help sell the whole interview????

I also got the sense that Oprah didn’t believe Marion either…

very disappointing…

#2 Ray Winbush on 10.31.08 at 12:03 pm

I was very disappointed in the interview. MJ has served time in prison and caused much grief to her teammates, yet for some bizarre reason (ego?) persists in lying about exactly what happened. I just don’t believe anything she says and hopefully when she writes a book, she’ll be far more forthcoming.

I think the imagined invincibility of athletes distorts their reality, and she certainly reflects that in her current attitude of lying at all costs…

#3 joseph on 10.31.08 at 1:00 pm

I love it, in a sly kindda way, when you saints continue to pile on Jones. What the hell. she already down.

Ok. Lets talk about dishonesty by asking a question you haters as question: Suppose you were a top olympic athlete and you had a chance to take dope and you were sure that you would not be revealed. Would you take the dope ?

I dont know what your answer is but when that question were put to the top athle in the world the majority said they would take the dope if they thought they would not be caught and would win a gold medal.



#4 RDR on 10.31.08 at 6:20 pm

I don’t think anyone was speaking on Jones being a saint. People just want her to tell the truth and probably would be more forgiving of her mistakes if she displayed an ounce of humility and was apologetic to the damage she did, not only to her teammates but herself as well.

#5 Ray Winbush on 10.31.08 at 6:29 pm

I’m not a “hater” (a term I despise since it attempts to suspend critique of individuals within Our communities). Jones simply should take responsibility for her actions. Plain and simple. Period. Straight no chaser.

#6 Lena L. West on 11.02.08 at 9:05 pm

I fear that Jones is suicidal.

Although I don’t agree with everything she’s done, I pray for her.

#7 mark . tuggle on 11.11.08 at 2:18 pm

i wanted to oprah to ask jones-thompson, how did you feel about yourself as a hue-man being when you were a teenager, before you started running? she implied low self-worth & poor self-concept issues yet oprah was unwilling to explore, instead settling for her hollywood smile & telling her how courageous (read: grateful) she is for being on her (read: exclusive interview/high ratings) show.

#8 Abs K on 12.25.11 at 2:44 pm

I don’t really care how people perceive MJ or what happened to her for me she is still my hero and I love everything about her. Every athlete out there use enhancement just sad she happen to be the one who came out or convinced to be honest about it which hurts her and her team mates.

So for those of you non athletic critics do your research more before you express how you feel toward her. I think she is still one of the best women sprinters ever with great personality and genuine smile.

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