Saturday, October 06, 2007


Olympic medalists, particularly gold medalist, can be incredibly inspiring. You didn't have to be an athlete to have been moved by the underdog 1980 US Hockey Team's run to glory or Dan Jansen's triumphant final grab for the gold after years of personal and athletic tragedy.

I eagerly followed Marion Jones during the 2000 Olympics. Couldn't believe she'd actually declared she'd win 5 golds. Seemed like such a braggy guy thing to do. But I liked her. And I really wanted her to live up to that brag. We Olympic fans were all disappointed when she didn't. Her accomplishments were impressive, all the same.

So it's not surprising that I found her public confession and apology for using steroids during those Olympics riveting. Countdown carried most of it. I know I'm supposed to be talking her down at this point in the story arc. Acceptance of her apology, respect for her public self-shaming is all supposed to come later in the game.

I find myself unable to do so. Her statements were thoroughly clean, unlike her Olympic medal winning steroid-enhanced body. And unlike her many previous statements over the last 7 years, in which she repeatedly denied any involvement with steroids.

But, in the end, Marion Jones did come clean. She confessed and took complete responsibility for her actions. Such a rare, rare choice in our day. Yes, confession does happen. But it so often comes with excuses. Ms. Jones made none.

I'm hoping that Keith Olbermann used much of his precious airtime letting us hear her words because he was impressed with this choice. I want to do the same. She said, "Making these false statements to federal agents was an incredibly stupid thing for me to do, and I am responsible fully for my actions. I have no one to blame but myself for what I've done.

"To you, my fans, including my young supporters, the United States Track and Field Association, my closest friends, my attorneys, and the most classy family a person could ever hope for, mainly my mother, my husband, my children, my brother and his family, my uncle and the rest of my extended family, I want you to know that I have been dishonest, and you the have the right to be angry with me.

"I have let them down. I have let my country down. And I have let myself down. I recognize that by saying that I'm deeply sorry, it might not be enough and sufficient to address the pain and the hurt that I have caused you. Therefore, I want to ask for your forgiveness for my actions, and I hope that you can find it in your heart to forgive me.

"I have asked Almighty God for my forgiveness. Having said this and because of my actions, I am retiring from the sport of track and field, a sport that I deeply love. I promise that these events will be used to make the lives of many people improve. That by making the wrong choices and bad decisions can be disastrous. I want to thank you all for your time."

Wouldn't it be amazing if other leaders in our world--say, our President--were able to take the same brave step and come clean? Not hiding behind "The Buck Stops Here" pretend responsibility, all the while lying, torturing and breaking the law with impunity. Instead, being honest and forthright with we, the people of the United States. Stepping up, admitting he was wrong, admitting he'd both done wrong and condoned wrong-doing. Wouldn't it be amazing?

A girl can dream, can't she?



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