Marion Jones, the darling of America's 2000 Sydney Olympics, has taken a tumble. Jones won five medals, including three gold, and has been denying allegations of doping ever since.
She's not denying it now. Jones has pleaded guilty to two counts of lying to federal investigators and has confessed in a White Plains, New York courtroom to having taken steroids before the 2000 summer games.
Jones's admission brings an ignominious end to the storied career of a woman once regarded as the greatest female athlete of all time.
In 2004, infamous Balco founder, Victor Conte told ESPN that he'd supplied Jones with several illegal drugs:
On April 21, 2001, in an Embassy Suites hotel room in Covina, California, he [Conte] said, he was sitting about "a foot away" as Jones used a $US1000 NovoPen injector - a device that "looked like a Sharpie [a large felt tip pen]" and that can be used to inject human growth hormone. After pulling the spandex of her bicycle shorts above her right thigh, he said, Jones "dialled up a dose of 4 units of growth hormone and injected it into her quadriceps." Jones's former husband, CJ Hunter, "was hugely responsible for making sure she did what she was supposed to", he said, adding that after they split up: "I had to reprimand her for getting careless."
She left a growth-hormone cartridge injector "on a refrigerator in a hotel room in Edmonton . . . and had to go back and get it," Conte said. "[She] left it again at a hotel in Eugene, Oregon, a few days later. After the first time she forgot it, she said she'd put it in a sneaker and lean the sneaker against the refrigerator so she wouldn't forget it. Then she forgot the shoe. That injector had a thousand dollars worth of growth hormone in it! "I couldn't afford the risk," Conte said. At the same time, he said, he was having "financial problems" with Tim Montgomery, so he ended his relationship with them, and "soon I was working with their rivals".
Montgomery and Jones are now partners and parents of a year-old son. The magazine story confirms previously published accounts of what was called "Project World Record" on Montgomery's behalf, Conte acting as Montgomery's "pharmacology and nutrition" guru. Montgomery set the 100-metre world record, 9.78 seconds, in 2002.
Jones' confession will only add to the controversy surrounding the death of her predecessor, Florence Griffith-Jones. "Flo-Jo" scored three gold medals at the Seoul Olympics only to die suddenly from a heart attack at age 38.