Marion Jones is finally coming clean. That's the story, at least. She's 'fessing up to her long-suspected steroid use, to the lying and denying that came with it, to the bill of goods she sold federal investigators and the willfully ignorant American public.
Don't believe a word of it.
Correction: Don't believe a word that comes out of Marion Jones' mouth. Ever. She's fundamentally dishonest. Clinically so. Probably narcissistic.
Possibly sociopathic. I'm not kidding. Time and again -- in press conferences, on morning television, under threat of legal sanction, through her bogus lawsuit against Victor Conte, in GREAT BIG PAGE-SIZED RED LETTERS in her autobiography -- Jones lied about using performance-enhancing drugs. Lied when she could have said nothing, pleaded the Fifth, been cheerfully evasive. Lied aggressively, with righteous, finger-wagging indignation, as if she actually believed her own [expletive]. And maybe she did. Maybe she still does, because Jones continues to lie, right now, through her perfect sneaker-selling smile, playing damage control to the last, forever spinning half-truths to her advantage.
In another life, she would have made a great tobacco company flack.
Consider what Jones is admitting in her conveniently leaked, oh-so-heartfelt letter to family and friends: that she took a single substance, "the clear," for two years beginning in 1999; that she thought it was flaxseed oil; that it was all the fault of her coach, Trevor Graham; that when she finally realized it was something more sinister, she panicked and covered up.
Right. Jones as victim. Oh, and don't forget the passive-voice "red flags should have been raised."
Uh-huh. Sure. Jones knew nothing, had no control. She's just a caveman, frightened by our world.
Don't buy it. Not an ounce. Instead, consider everything Jones is omitting: the wealth of evidence in "Game of Shadows" suggesting that she took a lot more than the clear, and knew exactly what she was doing; the connections between Jones and drug cheats like Charlie Francis; Jones' Athens Games flameout while working with the one honest coach she's ever had, Dan Pfaff (whom she later vindictively sued); her subsequent reemergence in 2005 and '06, nearly derailed by a positive EPO test that Jones sidestepped when her B sample came back negative.
Like Barry Bonds, Jones has been found out; like Bonds dropping his infamous "whatever, dude" excuse on the BALCO grand jury, she's clinging to that old political and legal standby, plausible deniability.
Only it's too late. For Jones to admit anything, the feds must have had her dead to rights -- and if BALCO taught us anything, it's that somebody somewhere will bring that evidence to light.
What did she use? How much did she know? The truth will trickle out. And Jones, because she's Jones, will keep dissembling. Don't accept it. Call her bluff. Shouldn't be too hard, really. Jones may be an accomplished fraud, but she's no longer a golden girl. No longer a symbol of something grander than chemistry. No longer telling us what we want to hear.
Patrick Hruby is a columnist for Page 2. Sound off to Patrick here.