Sports from the point view from the guy that holds the clipboard for the guy that holds the clipboard.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Steroids Hall of Fame: Marion Jones

Mrs Jones...Mrs. Jones....what a lying ho-bag you are!

This week to celebrate the end of the Olympics and to celebrate the start of the "Stripper Season" (Definition: That time of year right after the Olympics where athletes get their medals stripped. They do it now to avoid bad publicity for the Olympics. This year in China the term shall be painfully appropriate.) with one of the biggest names to have her career and legacy ruined by her very own actions. Marion Jones. Remember those Nike ads she starred in before most Americans knew who she was? Those were cool as hell. Cool chick, cool voice, cool ad, oh yeah great athlete too. Well "great" athlete anyway. Not only did she ruin her career she got the medals stripped from the necks of her teammates in the 4x400 and 4x100 relays in Sydney. Kudos!

This woman worked her way up the running ladder and into the hearts of many Americans. She was who she was. Not flashy, not arrogant, but hardworking and someone we could be proud of. She of course killed all that, but she does show us a fact of steroids that people do not want to realize. The fact that in order for steroids to do their job a person has to work harder. Steroids act in a manner that allows a person to recover from a workout faster. They allow a person to work on a muscle group on back-to-back days. So a steroid user gains their advantage by being able to workout twice as much as someone that is not using. Steroids feed into the competitiveness of a top-level athlete because they get to work harder, something they almost all want to do. That's part of the reason why someone like Marion lies about using. Steroids are not a shortcut to success. They are not victory pills. She worked her ass off for what she got, she worked harder than anyone else. Her "cheating" gave her the chance to work harder. So how is that cheating if she had to spend more time in the gym?

I'm trying to tell the story that most sports fans do not want to actively think about. Now we all know drug abuse turns liars into the best of people no matter what the drug. With steroids it becomes more complex. Of course the drug itself creates a level of arrogance and invincibility within it's user. So you add that to the obvious positives that come from it's use, most usually fame and fortune. Then add in the usual doubling of the typical junkie "fear of getting caught" and you get a much larger motivation to lie. This is the reality of why steroids (and again I emphasize my use of the word steroids means all Performance Enhancing Drugs) aren't going anywhere. Heroin did not make Bradly Nowell a rock-star, but steroids did make Marion Jones an Olympic Champion. The drug works in ways no other type of drug can. It truly gives back, it opens doors and gives opportunities. It takes them away just as much as any other drug, but it also gives. A drug that actually gives something is a battle that cannot be won. I'm not advocating not fighting it, but we aren't going to eliminate it. Reality folks, that what this is about, dealing with reality.

Ill quickly touch upon the debate about Marion's relay teammates and whether or not they should keep their medals. I am going to say that by stripping them as well we put some peer pressure on people to not use. That may bury it further underground, but no one will want to run a relay or compete on a team with a user if they know it's going to cost them. It sucks but it's a part of the war we can fight effectively. So I say they lose their medals and that is that. No, it isn't fair, but neither was what Marion did. Blame her if they have an issue.

Once again Marion steps up and points out the complexity of the issue. She wins our hearts and then breaks them. She holds out until the bitter end, casting doubt on all those who deny, Lance Armstrong, and making us wonder if any athlete is playing clean. Way to go Mrs. Jones, your legacy will out last the record books now. You have made us question everything and made us expect a level of cheating. When the Stripper Season ends we won't be shocked by any name we read, and most of that will fall on your shoulders. We may forgive you, but we cannot change the skepticism we now carry with us.

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