Say, “Sports scandal” and most of us probably think of men behaving badly.
Well, think again. In our new era of women’s sports equality (sort of), we now have a tragic morality tale of how a great female athlete can also fall far from grace.
Marion Jones was revered one of the greatest female athletes of this generation, supposedly achieving a record five Olympic medals on her own merits. This past week, sadly, we learned she had a little help — she pled guilty to lying about her long-suspected use of steroids to enhance her performance. She has already returned her Olympic medals, and been banned for two years from competition, but far worse, she faces probable prison time for perjury.
Sometimes, students at Trinity wonder why we are so adamant about the Honor Code. Well, consider Marion Jones, now the latest sad example of the consequences of lying and cheating. Instead of retiring to years of fame after a glorious career, she is flat broke, headed to prison, and unlikely to work again in sports — all because she lied about whether she cheated, a double-whammy of broken honor.
Marion Jones presents a genuine American tragedy. She is not the first or only athlete to have fallen for the lure of performance-enhancing drugs. If any good can be found in her story, at least she has finally told the truth, and has apologized in unvarnished terms to her fans and family.
We’re still waiting for some well known male athletes to come clean on these issues. Perhaps they can take a lesson from Marion Jones.