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Marion Jones:

          Marion Jones was born in Los Angeles, California on October 12, 1975.  Since the 2000 Summer Olympics, Marion Jones has been considered the fastest woman on Earth, and arguably the best female athlete in the world.   Marion Jones is able to outrun almost anyone on the track. However, she wasn’t able to flee the heartbreak and anger that stained her childhood.

Without a doubt, for years Jones followed her absentee father, George Jones, who left the family when she was only two years old. Unfortunately he showed no concern in forming a bond with his daughter. Jones’ mother, Marion, remarried Ira Toler when the young Marion was five years old, at last giving the child a father figure. Nevertheless tragedy struck seven years later when Toler past away of a stroke.

Jones was able to escape her grief and anger on the track. In 1991, when she was just 15, she ran the 200 meters in 22.87 seconds, breaking the national high school record. She vacillated later that year at the TAC Nationals, placing fourth in the 200 and eighth in the 100. Coaches were impressed by her potential, and yet came knocking. Her mother hired Elliott Mason as a private coach.

Jones’s track career was endangered when she failed to show up for a random drug test, saying that the letter notifying her of the test never reached her.  For this reason, she was prohibited from the sport for four years. Her mother hired Johnnie Cochran, who effectively fought for her reinstatement. Unfortunately not soon enough. Since Jones soured her track career, she turned her attention to basketball.


She led her high school team, once scoring 48 points in a single game, and earned a scholarship to the University of North Carolina. With her quick feet and scoring touch, she cemented her place as starting point guard as a freshman and led the team to the national title. She red-shirted (didn’t play in one competition/game) her junior year to train with her former track coach, Mason, for the 1996 Olympics.  However, the basketball coach at UNC persuaded her to join the team in Colorado for the World University Game trials. Jones broke her foot twice—once during the trials and again in rehab.

While on the sideline, Jones hit a low point, substantiated by the teardrop tattoo she had emblazoned on her left shoulder. Her luck seemed like it was about  to turn when she met C. J. Hunter who was a world-champ shot putter and was working as a coach on the UNC track team. They created an instantaneous bond and started dating, regardless of a university rule forbidding coach-athlete relationships. They thought they were keeping the affair confidential, but head coach Dennis Craddock enforced Hunter to make a choice: the team or Jones. He chose Jones, and they were married in 1998.

          The union raised eyebrows. Hunter, who has two children from a previous marriage, is seven years older than Jones and is known for being unapproachable and withdrawn.  Jones, on the other hand, is warm and amicable.

Hunter persuaded Jones to give track another try, and she relinquished her last year of basketball eligibility and started running again.   She won the 100 meter and the long jump at the nationals in 1997.

At the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, Jones made history.  She was awarded three gold medals, winning the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter dash, and the 1,600-meter relay, and two bronze medals, in the long jump and the 400-meter relay. She grew to be the first woman to win five medals at one Olympics.

Hunter removed himself from Olympic competition a month before the 2000 games began, after knee surgery.  Soon afterward, it was discovered that he had failed four tests for the anabolic steroid nandrolone in the route of the summer. He denied that he had taken steroids, and his nutritionist, Victor Conte, held responsible the results on an iron supplement.  “Conte was the founder of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO), which has since become the subject of a federal investigation for allegedly providing steroids to dozens of athletes.”

Jones and Hunter became distant in June 2001 and divorced not long after that. She and sprinter Tim Montgomery, who broke the world record in the 100-meter dash in 2002, lived together for several years. Montgomery, who has never tested positive for drugs, has since been charged by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency of using illegal steroids, saying that based on testimony given during the BALCO investigation.  He is now facing the likelihood of a lifetime ban.  “Jones recently married the sprinter Obadele Thompson from Barbados. She has two children, one with Thompson and the other with Tim Montgomery”.

Even though Jones has never failed a drug test, and while her personal athletic performance has gradually gotten worse from 1997 onward—the reverse of what one would imagine of an athlete using performance-enhancing drugs—guilt-by-association has reasoned her to fall under the notion of using steroids. She has progressively denied this.  Conceivably the public attacks on her personality have been taking toll on her; she competed inadequately in the 2004 Olympic trials, mentioning fatigue.  While she qualified for the long jump, she pulled out from the 200-meter dash and didn’t meet the requirements for the 100-meter dash.

“On October 5, 2007 Jones announced her retirement from track and field after pleading guilty to Federal charges for use of performance-enhancing drugs. She also confessed to making false statements during two different government drug investigations.  Jones claims that her former coach, Trevor Graham, gave her a substance he told her was flaxseed oil in 2000, but a year later discovered was the designer steroid THG, known as “the clear.” She will be sentenced on January 11, 2008 with a maximum sentence of five years.   In the meantime, Jones was released from prison after yielding her United States and Belize passports to the U.S. government. In November 2007, the International Association of Athletics Federation decided that Jones must return all medals and money, including the $700,000 prize money, and forfeit all race results since September 1, 2000. Jones is officially suspended from competition until October 7, 2009.


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