Wednesday, October 10, 2007

She didn't have to do it

Once a world-class sprinter -- some considered her the world's best, Marion Jones had the track world at her feet. However, poor choices eventually threw all of that away.

Jones recently admitted that she took steroids during the time she was winning medals at the 2000 Olympics. When asked by a federal grand jury, she testified under oath that she did not take anything illegal.

Her admission came in a letter to family and friends: one of her friends supposedly leaked information from the letter to a newspaper. I don't think this is what Dionne Warwick meant when she sang "That's What Friends Are For."

And the Beatles' "With A Little Help From My Friends" certainly wasn't Jones' theme song, either: she took steroids from a former track coach, who is now on trial. A husband and her baby's daddy, both of whom also got popped for being juiced, most likely were bad influences in Jones' life as well.

Jones' admission, which also included her returning her Olympic medals, just was the iceberg tip of her problems. The International Olympic Committee most likely will take out their eraser and permanently remove her name from their record books, take away her world championships, pursue her for prize money and appearance fees, and a possible ban from future Olympics in any shape or form.

Can't you hear the "I don't you so" chorus humming in the background?

She didn't have to do it. Jones was a NCAA champion in both basketball and track at North Carolina before she took on the world. She could run like the wind. She also did some broadcasting work on the side, and wasn't bad at it -- Jones had a future career in the works after her running days was over.

Well, they are -- but now Jones' future is very uncertain.

She's a cheater. She's been stripped of everything but her shattered pride.

She didn't have to do it.

Jones is like countless star athletes, who despite their God-given ability along with work ethic, often operates out of fear. Fear of losing. Fear of one day no longer in the spotlight. Fear of no longer world class but just an Average Joe or Josephine.

As a result, they listen to the wrong people. Too often they take the wrong advice. Bad decisions ultimately becomes a house of cards.

In Jones' case, her wrongdoing isn't individually isolated. Her fellow members of the U.S.'s 4 x 100 relay team also will lose their medals as well. Even if they didn't do anything wrong, their names, their accomplishments are forever tarnished.

Bad decisions often affect more than the individual but others as well.

It's all well and good that Jones fessed up to loved ones -- even to us, the public. Even those who are now singing in high pitch, "I told you so.'

But the ones Jones should be on her knees, now that she is in the contrite mood, is not the track world or the IOC. It's her track team members who she should be writing to every day for the rest of her life, begging their forgiveness.

Because she didn't have to do it.

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