wall of infamy

marion cheater
Marion Jones’ fake-ass, tearful apology for her shameful and criminal use of performance-enhancing drugs has me ranting again.

First, I e-mailed the coaches at my alma mater, UNC Chapel Hill, to ask if they plan to take Marion down from the Wall of Fame (I have received no response yet). Then I phoned in to the NPR talk show, Talk of the Nation, to comment on the story they were doing about Doping. They took my call! I wanted to know why everyone is referring to this as a moral or ethical issue. Drug cheats are no different than common thieves, I said.
Next, I wrote the guest cheater on NPR, Joe Papp (cyclist serving a two year suspension) and asked him:

Hello Joe,
I was the caller on Talk of the Nation who spoke today about the criminal element in using performance-enhancing drugs. I want to ask you if someone broke into your house and stole your High Def TV or if someone broke into your bank account through identity theft and stole thousands of dollars, don’t you think that thief should go to prison? Why aren’t you in jail? And also, why do you keep referring to the DRUGS you took as medicine? You weren’t sick; you are a thief.
Keep telling your story and maybe the next generation of athletes will see that crime doesn’t pay.


Unlike the UNC track & field department, Joe DID write me back, immediately. Here’s what he had to say:

Hi Joan,

Thanks for contacting me.

With regards the criminal aspect, I think that is the area where the anti doping agencies have the best chance to profoundly influence sport. If more countries criminalize the use of performance-enhancing drugs, it will be a much more serious deterrent.

As far as my use of the words medicine or drugs – the products I used were medicines, albeit ones that we used inappropriately. Even amphetamines had a legitimate medical use in some cases.

Anyway, if you want to talk more [with phone #]

Best,

Joe

11 thoughts on “wall of infamy

  1. thronedoggie

    Question – are these criminal matters? If so, isn’t it up to the prosecuting authorities as to who goes to jail?

    Just thought I’d check :)

    jim p.

  2. George - FFSG

    Joan, I agree with you. Other athletes who worked hard and did it fairly have had lost out on shoe contracts and other endorsement deals because of these cheating thieves.

    It is nice that the real gold medalist will get her medals now, but she lost out on the benefits that would have come had she been awarded the gold medal when she earned it. (Or when if was stolen from her.)

    Wish I was a UNC Alumni to put pressure on them to remove Marion from the wall.

    Go Joan, you are right and it needs to be shouted!!

  3. Joe Papp

    Hi Joan, thanks for posting my email to you. I’m glad your readers can see my response, and my original offer to conduct further discourse via phone still stands. Best wishes, Joe

  4. Mark

    Way to go, Joan. I’d like to ask you a question if I may?

    One of the things that makes me mad about all this is that Jones only got a two-year suspension compared to Ben Johnson’s lifetime suspension.

    Now, I know that Johnson got two years and then life on his second offense. HOWEVER, it’s been proven Jones has been cheating since before 2000 – a LONG time.

    What do you think? Thanks!

  5. Steve

    All of this is just so sad; it leaves me completely disillusioned. I knew that Marion was cheating, but I wanted to believe it wasn’t true. I knew that all the cyclists cheat, but I wanted to fool myself and think that some of them — maybe Landis, maybe Rasmussen, maybe Vino, maybe Lance — were clean. I really want to think that Geb is clean. What did he average for the marathon when he set his world best a couple weeks ago? 4:44 per mile, I think. Is that even possible without drugs? I want to think so, but I doubt it.

  6. Blake Russell

    To show everyone how rampant drugs are in track and field, the “real gold” medalist that the first poster alluded to is also up for a drug suspension after dodging several tests. I can’t remember her name, a greek sprinter. I believe the IAAF would like to award a second bronze medal to the fourth place finisher to avoid having to give a gold medal to another cheat. Life-time bans- criminal offense is the only way to go! Thanks Joan.

  7. Heather MacFalls

    Joan – We just listened to the interview. Way to go!

    The criminal debate is again relevant as Marion’s sob story drags on. It is unbelievable that she has the gall to publicly plead for mercy, despite the history of check fraud ON TOP OF cheating/stealing. All wrapped up in a well-documented web of lies. The inevitable discovery of her additional off-shore bank accounts can’t come soon enough.

    It’s interesting that Sue Humphrey would have written a letter for Marion’s behalf. Here’s some food for thought in the form of 2004 Humphrey quotes, which highlighted their intentions to send a clean roster to Athens. Sincere?

    “The designer steroid THG (tetrahydrogestrinone) has been in the headlines lately, and some U.S. Olympic team members have had positive drug tests, including sprinter deluxe Kelli White. It’s a problem, and one U.S. Olympic Track and Field committee members want to clean up before Athens.”

    “It’s very unfortunate some athletes, some very nice and intelligent people, have found it necessary to cheat,” said Humphrey. “They have allowed themselves to be influenced into using drugs, or they have decided that’s the only way they can succeed. It’s got a lot of people wondering.”

    “It takes talent and hard work times three to succeed. Too many people are looking for a quick way out in America. We all want testing, and we all want clean testing. The trials are in mid-July in Sacramento, and we want to get the test results back quickly because we want a clean team when we leave for Athens. We want no surprises there. Our roster deadline is right after the Trials, and we want to be confident in our team when we turn that roster in.”

  8. Skip

    Let it go. People have been making mistakes since the beginning of time. While I have no proof Marion was clean during her days at UNC, who cares. Its sports. Yes, just sports. Hopefully Congress will figure out we don’t need hearings on steroid use in baseball but hearings on how to pay teachers more, educate our children to compete in a global society and other more pressing social issues. With two teenage boys I’m concerned about college admissions, grade point averages and college tuition. Skip Miller UNC 81

  9. Mark

    @Skip: Just because this is not on your list of priorities doesn’t mean you should belittle it. It is very important to some people. In fact, it affects some people’s lives and livelihoods so I’d say it certainly is an important enough issue that it shouldn’t be outright blown off as you have.

    Cheers,
    Mark

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