Marion Jones Juiced?

ESPN.com - OLY - BALCO chief says he gave drugs to sprinter Jones

Victor Conte is cutting loose and doing his best to take everyone else down with him. I find his self-righteous tone more than a bit laughable, given that he has been dealing in illegal drugs for the past several years. He says, "Do [I] feel ashamed about what [I've] done? The answer is, no. Because I got to a point where I realized that elite sport is about doing what you have to do to win. I've seen athletes being forced to decide whether to use or not use, and it's much more painful for them to entertain the idea of giving up their dream than using anabolic steroids. So those are the real rules. That's what's really going on. Those are the real choices that athletes face when they get to the very top of their sport."

That's like hearing a drug pusher say, "Hey, I just provide the smack. They kill themselves with it." Or maybe Philip Morris (I mean, "Altria") saying, "We didn't force people to smoke cigarettes."

The relativistic argument of "everyone's doing it" doesn't hold any more water now than it did when you used it on your Mom in fifth grade. You remember: when you wanted to go jump your dirt bike off the edge of the overpass, because Tommy Milewski said that it would prove you weren't a wuss. Guess what? Even if you had gone and cracked your head open, you still would have been a wuss, because you let him tell you what to do. Only now, you'd be a brain-damaged wuss. So Mom was right. Go call her and tell her I said so.

I was an athlete in college, and I wanted to do my best. I wasn't exactly competing on the international stage, though I had my dreams. I can't imagine taking something that was both illegal and unhealthy (come on, everyone, do you think your body likes being pumped full of chemicals?) in the name of those dreams. Especially in sports, which are supposed to be about bettering yourself and striving in clean competition to outrace, outthrow, or outjump someone, how do you knowingly cheat and then claim that you're proud of your achievements?

I don't buy the "leveling the playing field" argument. It sounds too much like an excuse to take a shortcut, and I think that you have to exhibit some personal integrity if you want to be lifted up as an "elite" anything. I also suspect that it's more about getting -- or being afraid of losing -- those big endorsements than it is about achieving dreams anymore. Money is a far more powerful stimulant than any adrenalin surge that comes from winning.

All that said, I'll still be very sad if it turns out that Marion Jones was juiced. Sad, but not terribly surprised. I mean, did you see her last spring? I wish that I had a body like that.
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