Why I Believe Marion Jones is Guilty

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I read this great post by EPelle on the Track & Field News Forums he allowed me to post this.

Going on record now from "Unannounced Athlete is Likely Guilty" to "Guilty as Appears".

You have received the external life reasons on previous threads (alliances, marriages, boyfriends, notes, calendars, words from liars, shifts from Ms. Jones on her stances, etc.).

Now, taking a purely numbers oriented look at this, I:ve concluded that Ms. Jones has been aided all along – from her initial return to the track – and the sand box – through to her leaked A-positive test announced this week.

Let:s take a look at a young prodigy, a high school girl named Marion Jones – a kid who started off fast at Rio Mesa (following the footsteps of Angela Burnham), then got even faster (as she matured) at her new school, Thousand Oaks (which produces other great athletes, including distance runners).

Jones at CA State Meet in high school:

  • Grade-9: 11,67 – 23,71
  • Grade-10: 11,17 – 22,91w
  • Grade-11: 11,14 – 22,83
  • Grade-12: 11,61 (-3,1 m/s) – 23,14 (-2,1 m/s) – 22-0,5 (6,71m)

Jones 11,14 was the 2:nd-fastest state winning 100m mark – and fastest legal mark – of the 20:th century behind an 11,10w (+3,0 m/s) Angela Williams ran six years later. Jones 22,83 was the fastest 200m state winning mark of the 20:th century, and she ran a 22,58 national USA high school record. No one in the history of the sport in the USA at a similar age comparison (14-18) had ever run faster. Jones won nine (9) CA State titles, and had the opportunity to vye for an Olympic spot already as a teenager. She is named Track & Field News Athlete of the Year in 1991.

Then Jones decides to veer away from the 100m/200m her first year of university. Injury. She gets in some relay work, and is able to long jump. Her second year of university, she doesn:t compete at NCAA:s in either of her sprint specialities, deciding instead to concentrate on the relay and long jump.

Jones then decides she:s tired of track and focuses her attention on the hard court (Jones high school, Thousand Oaks, finished 60-4 during Jones two-year career there. Jones was named the 1993 CA Div I Player of the Year, and averaged 22,8 points and 14,7 rebounds that season*). One of her state:s most gifted basketball players makes a great leap into collegiate ranks, helping her NC team win an NCAA title.

Jones breaks the 5:th metatarsal bone in her left foot in 1996, causing her to miss any opportunity she may have been planning for with regard to returning to the track after a couple years layoff. She re-breaks the foot four months later.

March 1997 Jones tells her coach she is foregoing her remaining basketball eligibility to concentrate on track – a sport she has not necessarily succeeded in personally since high school. She finds Trevor Graham in 1997 – rather, he apparently found her – and began working on long jump technique adjustments and angle-of-block adjustments. Marion begins immediately improving, she states.

June 1997 Jones wins the first of two USA National titles – only two month after teaming up with Graham, deciding to leave basketball, and seven months after re-breaking a foot she had only broken four months prior to that. Not only does Jones win the USA Championships – her first "real" title, she runs the =5 100m mark (10,76) in world history in doing so.

Let:s recap this so far:

A woman who has top-25 world-ranked 100m/200m times in high school decides to skip her two premier events during her first two years of university competition; she turns her focus on relay chores and long jumping her first two full years at North Carolina. Then she stays an additional year away from the sport all together in 1996, only to return one sunny day (perhaps not, but allow for the hyperbole) in April 1997 and begin training for the World Championships (not that she began training at precisely that time-frame).

Fact:

  • 1991 Jones runs 11,17/22,76, and ranks 16/18 in the world.
  • 1992 Jones runs 11,14/22,58, and ranks 18/17 in the world.
  • 1993 Jones has zero top-25 marks
  • 1994 Jones has zero top-25 marks
  • 1995 Jones has zero top-25 marks
  • 1996 Jones has zero top-25 marks
  • 1997 Jones runs 10,76/21,76, and ranks 1/1 in the world.

She either never competes (or never makes finals) in NCAA 100m/200m, opting rather to compete in the long jump and run the 4x100m her first – and only – two years of university.

She takes time off from the sport, only to come back two years later — four (4!) long years after her last "major" final (in high school), and wins the 1997 World Championships 100m title, and follows it up with a 1998 100m/200m World Cup (10,65/21,62) double victory.

One can stretch the imagination and believe that Jones – off of pure athletic ability, willpower and drive (she once stated in 1988 – after seeing JJK and Griffith-Joyner win golds that she wanted to be an Olympic Champion) came back to life when she was able to overcome injury and find a good coach.

Then she repeats as World Champ in the 100m, running 10,70.

Jones continues on her journey by winning two Olympic golds, running 10,75 and 21,84 – her best two times of the year — the 28:th of September 2000. The performances are excellent in-and-of-themselves, but what is astonishing is that she demonstrated an incredible display of endurance not just for the events in which she competed at the Olympics including long jump rounds and number of attempts, but for having recorded such times after such a long season. It had only been her third season back on the track.

Jones follows up her "Drive For Five" with another World Champs run, this time an "upset" 2:nd place in Edmonton (10,85). Jones adds the 200m to her World title collection (22,39).

Why I believe Jones is guilty:

  1. I believe Jones has tested positive for a performance enhancing drug.
  2. Jones relationship with Trevor Graham, a very suspect coach who has had several athletes under his watch test positive for PEDs.
  3. Victor Conte:s testimony prior to – and after – the leaked test. Whether or not Conte can always be trusted is left up in the air. He has stated – in person and in writing – that he has provided PEDs to certain athletes, Jones and Gatlin included. Both Jones and Gatlin have apparently tested positive for PEDs.
  4. Jones relationship with Tim Montgomery, a later-confessed drug cheat and accused swindler of money.
  5. Jones relationship with Charlie Francis, a banned coach later re-instated by IAAF after debate surrounding PED denials.
  6. Jones incredible display of endurance and power after such a long lay-off from two events which need continual work. How an athlete takes a three-plus year break from not one, but two events which demand exceptional skill, discipline and work to improve in small increments returns their first season and immediately breaks into the world top-10 list is astonishing.
  7. Jones relationship with CJ Hunter, and the apparent links between her and Balco according to leaked Grand Jury testimony.
  8. Jones statement to the effect that keeping bad company is not prohibited.

I find that a reasonable person would look at the numbers alone – and imagine, if you will, what it takes to run 10-something for 100m.

Then imagine what it takes for a female athlete to run 10-something.

Jones was on pace to accomplish that had she continued on in her select event past high school, and with both natural progress and good coaching.

Ask yourself this question again: "How much work doe it take to break 11,00?"

Can a female sprinter accomplish this in a matter of months after a long lay-off? After breaking their foot twice in the months leading up to their comeback, which, again, is after a long lay-off?

Has there been any other athlete on the face of this planet who has performed nearly as remarkably as Marion Jones had after four years with the absence of top-25 world marks and then subsequent time away from the sport? Has any athlete ever gone through the emotional toll taken on by Jones and successfully overcome it with the same degree of success?

*Stat: Sports Illustrated
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Mike Young

Mike Young

Founder of ELITETRACK at Athletic Lab
Mike has a BS in Exercise Physiology from Ohio University, an MSS in Coaching Science from Ohio University & a PhD in Biomechanics from LSU. Additionally, he has been recognized as a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) from the National Strength & Conditioning Association, a Level 3 coach by USA Track & Field, a Level 2 coach by USA Weightlifting.
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