The Boston Criminal Lawyer Blog commented last week on the tragic story of Marion Jones, the famed Olympic Athlete who received five medals in the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics. In October 2007 Ms. Jones admitted to taking steroids before the Olympics. Since then, she has been stripped of her medals and accepted a two-year suspension from track and field competition. In addition, Jones was sentenced to six months in prison, plus 2 years probation by U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas. The judge sentenced Jones to the maximum time allowed under her plea agreement to serve as a deterrent to other athletes who might be considering the use of performance enhancing drugs.
Beyond the tragedy of a young mother going to jail, beyond the disgrace of giving back her medals, and beyond the humiliation of being used as an example to other athletes for all the world to see, the Marion Jones story was one that need not have happened at all. It need not have happened since Marion was capable of performing at world class levels without the use of steroids or other performance enhancing drugs.
Athletes, for ages, have been deceived by the lie they must use drugs to reach their physiological potential. They believe without the drugs they are unable to compete at high levels. The truth is that drugs do help an athlete reach their potential more quickly than if the drugs were not used. But drugs do not increase athletic potential. In contrast, the athlete who works hard, stays clean, and gets plenty of rest over time is also capable of reaching their potential. It just takes longer. In other words, if Marion Jones would have developed a spirit of patience and perseverance, rather than a quick fix, she quite possibly would have reached her athletic goals without breaking the law and bringing disgrace to her name, family, and achievements.