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Sunday, October 07, 2007

The 29 victims of Marion Jones

After seven years of lying through her teeth, U.S. sprinter Marion Jones has confessed to using steroids leading up to the Sydney Olympics in 2000 where she won five medals.

The International Olympic Committee is now preparing to strip Jones of those medals-- gold in the 100 metre dash, gold in the 200 metres, gold in the 1600 metre relay, bronze in the long jump and bronze in the 400 metre relay.

The impact of that act will be felt by 29 women---the 29 victims of Marion Jones.

Six--Jones' relay partners--will lose the medals they thought they won. 23 others will get medals they were cheated out of at Sydney.

But that's cold comfort for the damage done to them by Jones. She stole their rightful place in the spotlight at the Sydney Olympics. She robbed them of the joy of standing on the winners' podium to the cheers of their countrymen. She cheated them of irreplaceable memories--photos of their getting their medals in the Olympic Stadium, welcome-home rallies at airports, newspaper clippings of them beaming as they hold up their trophies, being introduced at public and private functions as a gold medal winner, a silver medal winner, an Olympic medal winner.

Marion Jones feasted on their disappointments for seven years. Who, then, are her victims?

The results of the Women's 100 metres were:
1. Marion Jones, Los Angeles, 10.75.
2. Ekaterini Thanou, Greece, 11.12.
3. Tanya Lawrence, Jamaica, 11.18.
4. Merlene Ottey, Jamaica, 11.19.

Thanou will get the gold. Lawrence the silver. And Jamaica's Merlene Ottey becomes an Olympic medal winner with the bronze.

The results of the 200 metre race were:
1. Marion Jones, Los Angeles, 21.84.
2. Pauline Davis-Thompson, Bahamas, 22.27.
3. Susanthika Jayasinghe, Sri Lanka, 22.28.
4. Beverly McDonald, Jamaica, 22.35.

Davis-Thompson will get the gold medal. Jayasinghe the silver. And Jamaica earns a second medal at the Games with a bronze for Beverly McDonald.

The results of the 1600 relay were:

1. United States (Jearl Miles-Clark, Gainesville, Fla.; Monique Hennagan, Columbia, S.C.; Marion Jones, Los Angeles; La Tasha Colander-Richardson, Portsmouth, Va.), 3:22.62.
2. Jamaica (Sandie Richards; Catherine Scott-Pomales; Deon Hemmings; Lorraine Graham), 3:23.25.
3. Russia (Yulia Sotnikova; Svetlana Gontcharenko; Olga Kotlyarova; Irina Privalova), 3:23.46.
4. Nigeria (Olabisi Afolabi; Charity Opara; Rosemary Okafor; Falilat Ogunkoya), 3:23.80.

Jamaica will get the gold. Russia the silver. And Nigeria the bronze.

Marion Jones' teammates will lose their medals.
For LaTasha Colander, it means she will lose the only Olympics medal she's ever won.
Monique Hennagan can comfort herself with the gold medal she won at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Jearl Miles-Clark has a silver from the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and a gold from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

The final results in the Long jump were:
1. Heike Drechsler, Germany, (6.99), 22-11 1-4.
2. Fiona May, Italy, (6.92), 22-8 1-2.
3. Marion Jones, Los Angeles, (6.92), 22-8 1-2.
4. Tatiana Kotova, Russia, (6.83), 22-5.

Kotova of Russia will become the bronze medal winner.

The results of the 400 metre relay were:
1. Bahamas (Sevatheda Fynes; Chandra Sturrup; Pauline Davis-Thompson; Debbie Ferguson), 41.95.
2. Jamaica (Tanya Lawrence; Veronica Campbell; Beverly McDonald; Merlene Ottey), 42.13.
3. United States (Chryste Gaines, San Leandro, Calif.; Torri Edwards, Los Angeles; Nanceen Perry, Fairfield, Texas; Marion Jones, Los Angeles), 42.20.
4. France (Linda Ferga; Muriel Hurtis; Fabe Dia; Christine Arron), 42.42.

France moves up to take the bronze medal.

As for Marion Jones' teammates, Nanceen Perry and Torri Edwards will lose their only Olympic medals. Chryste Gaines will keep her Gold from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

But if anything, the disgrace of Marion Jones only serves to stir up the muck at the bottom of the Olympics talent pool as it reminds us that even some of the victims of Jones' deception have been exposed as cheats in their own right.

Ready to receive the gold medal in the 100 metres is Greek sprinter Katerina Thanou.

Remember that she and a male runner on the Greek team were themselves suspected of using steroids at the 2004 Athens Olympics. They both failed to show up for mandatory drug tests, claiming they had been in a motorcycle accident. Both of them were eventually suspended for two years.

Relay runner Torri Edwards tested positive for the banned stimulant nikethamide in 2004. She was banned from competition for two years and missed the Athens Olympics.

And Chryste Gaines received a two year ban in 2005 for using performance-enhancing drugs.
She also figured prominently in the same BALCO steroids scandal that brought Marion Jones down.

Tim Montgomery, the world's fastest man and Marion Jones' boyfriend, told a grand jury that the supplier of steroids had to get Chryste Gaines' okay before he would agree to help Jones.

"... So Chryste, from my understanding, had told Mr. Conte that: 'Whatever you charge her, if you give me a cut of it, then I don't mind,' '' a transcript of his grand jury testimony reads. "So, I don't know how much the check was for, I don't know if she ever got her cut, but that's how the agreement came for him to work with Marion."

Ugh. It makes you want to take a shower.

The medal shuffle won't have much of an effect on the final country standings. Jamaica is the big winner, adding two (bronze) medals bringing its medal total to 9, tying with Switzerland.

The loss of five medals takes the U.S. total to 92 and narrows its lead over Russia's 89 medals.

Regardless of how quickly the IOC acts to strip Jones of her medals, there's one thing they can do to mitigate the scandal.

They can award the proper medals at the coming 2008 Beijing Olympics with all the pomp and circumstance of a true medal ceremony.

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