Sprint Queen Marion Jones Caught Doping at 2000 Olympics & Sentenced to 6 Months in Prison
Marion Jones became a household name after winning five medals at the Olympic Games in 2000. However, she lost it all and had to start afresh after being involved in a scandal.
Marion Jones once had the pleasure of holding the title of the fastest woman in the world. That was after she won two bronze and three gold medals for running at the summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, in 2000.performance-enhancing
Her career came to an end after she was accused of taking prohibited substances before racing in the competition. She eventually told the truth after seven years of denial.
Marion Jones speaks to the media outside a US federal courthouse on October 5, 2007, in White Plains. On the right Jones celebrates her gold in the Women's 200m Final at the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia on September 28, 2000 | Photos: Hiroko Masuike/Mike Powell/Allsport/Getty Images
WHERE HER CAREER BEGAN
Jones was an all-star athlete who ran track, played basketball, and practiced other sports while attending high school. Her family even moved several times so she could compete in junior-high and high-school teams.
She'd started competing internationally by the time she was 12. Jones ended up getting a basketball scholarship, and in 1994, she assisted the women's basketball team in winning the national title.
Marion Jones on the podium on September 30, 2000, at the Sydney Olympic Games | Photo: TSGT Rick Sforza/U.S. Air Force/VIRIN: DF-SC-01-00186/Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons
MARION'S OLYMPIC APPEARANCE
She sat out the 1995/96 basketball season intending to focus on her track career. After her 1997 graduation, Jones concentrated on track and was a part of the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.
That's where she won some of her Olympic medals and went undefeated during the 2002 season. Jones didn't participate much in 2003 because of the birth of her son but returned the following year without the same form.
Marion Jones on the far left during the 1999 World Championships | Photo: Tomás Galindo - propia/CC BY 2.5/Wikimedia Commons
Throughout much of her career, the athlete was suspected of using steroids. In 2003, the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO) conducted a federal investigation into illegal steroid distribution.
BALCO's founder, Victor Conte, and Jones's ex-husband, C.J. Hunter, accused her of using banned substances. However, she'd never failed a drug test and denied the allegations.
A portrait of Marion Jones on October 12, 1975 | Photo: contrast/Behrendt/Getty Images
In 2006 the athlete tested positive for a banned substance but was cleared by a follow-up test. Shockingly, the following year, Jones admitted to lying to federal investigators about her drug use.
She confessed that she'd taken steroids. In November 2007, the track and field's international governing body (International Association of Athletics Federations) annulled her September 2000 results plus her Olympic titles.
Marion Jones stands with her husband Obadele Thompson after she leaves court on January 11, 2008, in White Plains, New York | Photo: Chris Hondros/Getty Images
Before Jones admitted her wrongdoing, she and her husband divorced in 2002, with the former claiming the drug scandal had put a strain on her marriage. Conte named Jones in the scandal during a television appearance.
He told "20/20" that he'd given Jones four different illegal performance-enhancing drugs before, during, and after the 2000 Sydney Games. At the time, Jones denied the allegations.
Barbados' Obadele Thompson sprinting to victory at Sydney's 2000 Olympics on September 27, 2000 | Photo: Tony Marshall/EMPICS/Getty Images
THE BALCO SCANDAL
Conte's claims were what brought the athlete's career to a halt in December 2004. The BALCO scandal, investigated by two journalists, uncovered a laboratory giving anabolic steroids to athletes like Jones and Hunter.
When Jones denied the accusations, she even went as far as filing a $25 million defamation suit against Conte. She accused him of trying to destroy her successful and flourishing career.
Marion Jones talks about her new book, "On the Right Track," with her husband Obadele Thompson on "Good Morning America" on October 26, 2010 | Photo: Donna Svennevik/Disney General Entertainment Content/Getty Images
Things came tumbling down for Jones when Hunter also testified against her. He told federal investigators that he'd seen his ex-wife injecting steroids in her stomach during the 2000 Olympic Games.
Another athlete implicated in the scandal was Tim Montgomery, who Conte gave the drug, claiming it would help him break 2002's 100-meter world record. He was a track athlete who had a child with Jones in 2003.
Marion Jones speaks to the media outside a US federal courthouse October 5, 2007, in White Plains, New York | Photo: Hiroko Masuike/Getty Images
ADMITTING HER FAULTS
She got lenient sentencing when Jones admitted to a judge that she'd lied to federal agents about her past steroid use. She took "the clear" for the first time when her coach, Trevor Graham, gave it to her in 1999.
However, the athlete alleged that her coach told her it was flaxseed oil. She continued taking it through 2001 and ended up pleading guilty for lying to federal investigators and ingesting performance-enhancing steroids.
FACING HER FANS
Outside the courthouse, Jones addressed the media by giving a tearful statement. She told her supporters that she'd let herself and the country down and had betrayed their trust, stating:
"Making these false statements to federal agents was an incredibly stupid thing for me to do, and I am responsible fully for my actions."
Jones was eventually sentenced to a two-year supervised release after serving six months in prison. The judge also required her to perform 800 hours of community service as penance for her wrongdoing.
Federal Judge Kenneth M. Karas said Jones had been aware of her wrongdoings for a while but chose to spend years lying about the truth. Karas felt the star deserved the sentence because she broke the law.
After being stripped of all her medals, the disgraced athlete returned them in October 2007. On March 7, 2008, she reported to the Federal Medical Center, Carswell prison in Fort Worth to serve her time.
LIFE AFTER THE SCANDAL
Jones married Obadele Thompson in February 2007, and they live with their three children, Eva Marie, Monty, and Amir, in Austin, Texas. Her story was told on November 19, 2012's episode of the "Life After" show.
In 2010, Jones allegedly tried to revive her dormant basketball career by signing up with the Tulsa Shock of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). However, 15 games into the 2011 WNBA season, she was cut.
She [Marion Jones] also discussed that year's Texas Conference for Women, which she was a part of.
According to Live Ramp Up, in June 2021, Jones had a net worth of $500 000 and worked as a fitness teacher in sports. She runs her own company and is a personal trainer with Camp Gladiator.
WHY HER KIDS NEVER VISITED IN PRISON
In March 2013, Jones appeared on Oprah Winfrey's "OWN," where she discussed why her children never visited her while in prison. She said she and Thompson didn't want the trio to be comfortable with prison.
The athlete shared how she felt visiting her in prison could make her children so comfortable with the place that they'd feel the same about it when they were older. Meaning they could land in jail easily too.
MOST RECENT INTERVIEW
Jones spoke to KVUE in 2017 about the lessons she applied in life from her sports career into her business. She also discussed that year's Texas Conference for Women, which she was a part of.
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