The argument against Marion Jones


The truth: Marion Jones is a liar.

That’s the message on a post by Alan Abrahamson, a recognized authority on the Olympics who left the L.A. Times in 2006 to write for NBC’s websites, writing for something called 3WireSports (linked here), which is “not just what’s happening in and around the Olympic movement and international sports but what it all means.”

What we wrote about Jones and her new book and documentary by John Singleton hit a nerve with Alan, and he responded:

Sometimes you read something in the newspaper or hear it on television and it’s just incredible.

Honestly, it’s so tempting to just let the moment pass. Marion Jones, again? Still?

But when there’s such a serious distortion of the truth, it’s imperative that the record be set straight. And repeatedly in recent days such revisionism has been at work, most pointedly in a lengthy interview she gave the Associated Press and in a Los Angeles Daily News column.

Both deserve special scrutiny because here is the truth: Marion Jones is a liar.

The scrutiny in the column we did with Singleton was his opinions about Jones’ situation, and how she’s trying to move forward.

She lied, and lied, and lied, and she spent time in federal custody for it, and she still can’t — or won’t — fully come clean.

It’s sad, really, because she does have a message for kids, which — as she tries to sell her new book and as the promotion gears up for a new ESPN documentary about her — is why she’s back in the newspapers and on TV.

Don’t make the “mistake” I did — that’s her message, and that was the exact word she used in an appearance a few days ago on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” But she didn’t make a “mistake.” That suggests a one-time thing. Marion Jones lied, repeatedly, about taking performance-enhancing drugs and she has yet to disclose the full extent of what she did, and why, and how.

Until she does that, her advice is as empty as a howling wind.

Alan seems to be angry that Jones is getting away with something here. We agree that if Jones really wants full forgiveness, she’s gotta come clean on everything — even the stuff she doesn’t want to visit any more. She takes a Jones-like long jump from Violation A to Redemption Z, skipping over a few not-so-minor details.

Maybe the difference here is that we’re all for someone trying to move forward. She has to live with whatever knowledge she had of what she did or didn’t do. We weren’t there. Neither was Alan, as much as he seems to think he knows about all what’s gone on in Jones’ thinking process.

We’re not as naive as Jones has been made out to be, either. But maybe the difference is that we’re a bit more forgiving. The wound could be reopened. But what’s the harm in trying to start the healing process with this first step.

Hang around, Alan. There’s more to this story that will someday come out. Let her take this first step.

As for the quotes from Singleton: Sometimes you just give the interview subject enough space to try to make his case, and let the readers decide what’s between the lines.

Singleton’s assertion that “let’s be real” and that Jones served jail time because she’s black is something we, as white people, aren’t going to fully understand, but we try.

Alan says “that assertion is as irresponsible as it is unsupported.” He continues:

The absurdity of the assertion that Jones went to prison because she’s black is further highlighted when surveying other cases that, like Jones’, grew out of the BALCO affair. Those brought into court have been black, white, male and female …

They didn’t put Marion Jones in prison because of what she looks like. They put Marion Jones in prison because of what she did. Marion Jones is a liar, and she — and we, everyone with an interest in sports — would be better off if she would come completely clean.

And that is the truth.

If the truth is what’s going to set Marion Jones free, she’s about to find out. That’s what I wrote before a Q-and-A in Sunday’s paper. Read between the lines there: She has to live with whatever “truth” she proports to put out there.

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