It’s a sad state of affairs when sports news has less to do with an athlete’s performance and more about which performance enhancing drug they took. Marion Jones pleaded guilty yesterday of lying to federal agents about taking THG and possibly even the “clear” prior to her celebrated achievements at the 2000 Olympics.
An article by ESPN’s Lester Munson says that IRS Agent Jeff Novitsky had compiled enough evidence that Marion Jones could no longer deny her guilt after vehemently defending her innocence for the better part of a decade. But if anything, the timing of Marion’s admission couldn’t be more calculated.
Just two weeks ago Floyd Landis was banned for two years from professional racing after testing repeatedly showed evidence of doping during his 2006 Tour de France victory. About one week ago boxer Sugar Shane Mosley also admitted to taking the “cream” and the “clear.” Landis continues to maintain his innocence while Mosley claims he was misled by his trainers into believing the steroids were allowable supplements.
Maybe I’m being a cynic, but allegations of innocence or unknowing usage seem like so much wasted breath.
I can’t help but see Marion’s confession as a calculated move designed to minimize fallout. Obviously she is the biggest name amongst recent offenders (football players like Travis Henry turning up positive for illegal substances are so common they’re barely worth mentioning anymore), and it’s clear that Marion is attempting to hide her disgrace amongst the tarnished careers of Mosley, Landis and other liars and cheaters.
The race is on for athletes to repent now while the repenting is good. If nobody else was in the news for cheating I genuinely believe that Jones would continue fighting incriminating evidence. But now that so many disgraced athletes have thrown themselves on the public’s mercy and begged for forgiveness I expect they will soon be getting even more company. Just don’t expect Barry Bonds to be one of them.