|Little by little, the remnants of Marion Jones’ once glorious career are being stripped away. |
Jones gave back the five medals she won at the Sydney Olympics on Monday following her admission that she was a drug cheat, and also agreed to forfeit all results, medals and prizes dating back to Sept. 1, 2000.
“I’m pleased that it was resolved efficiently,” said Travis Tygart, chief executive officer of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. “And at the end of the day, I hope it’s a good lesson that will have a dramatic deterrent effect on all athletes who may be tempted to dope.”
The U.S. Olympic Committee now will return the medals to the International Olympic Committee, which will decide what to do with them. Jones won golds in the 100 meters, 200 meters and the 1,600 relay in Sydney, as well as bronzes in the 400 relay and long jump.
“That, however belated, was the right thing to do,” said Dick Pound, chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency.
No one answered the door Monday at Jones’ house in Austin, Texas.
Jones’ relay teammates also should give back their medals, USOC chairman Peter Ueberroth said. Though there is precedent for not punishing an entire team, the race was tainted, Ueberroth said.
Jearl Miles-Clark, Monique Hennagan, Tasha Colander-Richardson and Andrea Anderson all won golds as part of the 1,600-meter relay. Chryste Gaines, Torri Edwards, Nanceen Perry and Passion Richardson were on the 400-meter relay team.
Both Edwards and Gaines have served doping bans since the 2000 Olympics.
“It’s our opinion that when any sporting event is won unfairly, it’s completely tarnished and should be returned. The relay events were won unfairly,” Ueberroth said. “We don’t have the jurisdiction on that matter. If we did, we would be on the side of returning the medals.”
The USOC has not talked to the other athletes yet about giving up their medals.
Fielding a clean team is a priority for a country trying to improve its image in the Olympic movement — not to mention win the 2016 Games — and drug cheats like Jones have been an embarrassment for the USOC. Jones was one of the most celebrated female athletes in the world, and she vehemently denied any doping allegations.
Athens gold medalist Justin Gatlin faces a ban of up to eight years after testing positive for testosterone and other steroids in April 2006 — one month before tying the then 100-meter world record.
But the USOC and USADA have worked hard to rid the U.S. team of cheats, and Ueberroth pledged Monday that the American athletes at next summer’s Beijing Olympics will be drug-free. The USOC also sent letters apologizing to 205 national Olympic committees and the people of Australia.
“Even though it is a negative going back, this will be viewed as positive in our commitment to fielding a clean team,” USOC CEO Jim Scherr said of Jones’ punishment.
After long denying she ever had used performance-enhancing drugs, Jones admitted Friday that she’d taken the designer steroid “the clear” from September 2000 to July 2001. “The clear” has been linked to BALCO, the lab at the center of the steroids scandal in professional sports.
Jones’ admission came as part of her guilty plea to lying to federal investigators about using steroids.
She will be sentenced on Jan. 11, and prosecutors had suggested to Jones the prison term would be a maximum of six months.
Though Jones announced her retirement after Friday’s court hearing, she accepted a two-year ban Monday and agreed to forfeit any results dating back to Sept. 1, 2000. That includes the two golds (200 and 400 relay) and silver (100) she won at the 2001 championships in Edmonton.
She stands to lose more. Scherr said the USOC plans to go after Jones for prize money it awarded her, about $100,000.