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JANUARY 21, 2008

MARION JONES...
Six months for lying???


Alright…we’ve all lied in our lives. If you say you haven’t then just add that to the list of lies you’ve already told. But for most of us, we don’t have to go to jail for any of those lies (unless you’ve been lying to the IRS).

Marion Jones, the Olympic track star, and one of the most dominant females ever to run track for the USA, was sentenced in a federal court Friday. She got six months in prison, plus two years of probation and some community service for lying to federal prosecutors who were investigating the use of performance-enhancing substances.
But seriously...all of this Congressional hearing stuff…well, it smacks of McCarthyism. Congress is investigating something without any intent to prosecute (offering immunity) – as long as people tell the truth?

Doesn’t that go well beyond what Congress should be doing? I forget…but aren’t we currently occupying a foreign country? Is that still going on? I know it is, because my best friend is currently over in Iraq…and I don’t want to seem unpatriotic (because I’m not), but shouldn’t this be the priority over finding out which millionaires are taking what drugs? And I’m not even going to mention the various times that Congress itself has been caught lying.

As a taxpayer, I’m forced to ask if this is a worthwhile expense for my money.

Shouldn’t drugs in sports be somewhere closer to the bottom of the list of Congress’ priorities…and not (as it seems lately) their over-riding concern?

Jones entered her guilty pleas in October and thereby admitted she lied to a federal agent in November 2003 about her use of steroids.

So now, a mother and wife, with no previous criminal record, and a history of contributing to society in various charitable efforts – has to spend 6 months in prison. From personal experience, I know that this isn’t such a big deal honestly…but the big deal is that she’s being torn from her family, and her entire career in athletics – the only one she’s ever had – is now likely totally over.

The sentencing judge (who was, in my estimation, just backing Congresses play in an effort to get himself a bigger desk) said that "athletes in society ... serve as role models to children around the world. When there is a widespread level of cheating, it sends all the wrong messages. People live with their choices and the choice not to play by the rules has been compounded by the choice to break the law."

Which of course, is absurd. She’s really being sentenced under the “How dare you lie to us, when we ask you to admit something that will ruin your life” statute.

Remember when Martha Stewart was put in prison for breaking that same statute? As I recall, stock shares in her company jumped 300% when she was in prison. I wonder if making a millionaire 3x richer sent the message Congress thought it would? Hell…I’m hoping that the same thing happens to Jones.

But in court Friday, Karas said, "There are times when a sentence can have a deterrent factor."

Jones' attorneys had argued that jail time was unnecessary because "any deterrent message to the public has already been sent."

So this means, basically, that Jones lied, and she’s going to prison not because of what she did, but as a warning to other people not to use steroids or to lie.

"The guilty plea in this matter and the circumstances surrounding it have been a very painful and life-changing experience for Marion Jones-Thompson. She has been cast from American hero to national disgrace. This part of her story will forever be one of personal tragedy. To be clear, the public scorn, from a nation that once adored her, and her fall from grace have been severe punishments. She has suffered enormous personal shame, anguish and embarrassment. She has been stripped of her gold medals, her accomplishments, her wealth and her public standing." Furthermore, her attorneys stated (and I agree with them) “There is no need to send her to prison, as she posed no threat to the public.”
I’d like to point out that Bill Clinton also lied to us (about both sex as well as drugs), and neither lost his livelihood nor served any time in prison; not that I think he should have, but seriously- neither should Marion Jones.
USA Track & Field President Bill Roe said that this was "a vivid morality play that graphically illustrates the wages of cheating in any facet of life, on or off the track. No one wanted to see this happen, and we hope that Marion and her family can move on as well.”

I guess you have to break a few lives to make an omelet.



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