Runner Marion Jones: 'I didn't love myself enough'

Updated: October 29, 2008, 3:39 PM ET
Associated Press

CHICAGO -- Disgraced track star Marion Jones says she often thinks she would have won gold medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, even if she hadn't taken a designer steroid known as "the clear."

"I'll ask myself, `Well, if you hadn't been given "the clear" do you think you would've won?" Jones said on an episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" broadcast Wednesday, her first post-prison interview.

"I usually answer, 'Yes."

Jones, 33, apologized to her teammates and tearfully read a letter she wrote in prison, in which she told her children she lied to federal prosecutors because she didn't love herself enough to tell the truth.

Jones described how prosecutors showed her a vial of a designer steroid and asked if she'd taken it. She said she immediately recognized it as a substance her former coach, Trevor Graham, had given her, but then she lied.

"I made the decision I was going to lie and try to cover it up," Jones said on Winfrey's show, which was taped. "I knew that all of my performances would be questioned."

She maintained she thought the substance was flaxseed oil when her coach gave it to her, but she later learned from prosecutors that it was the designer steroid. Last week, a federal judge sentenced Graham to a year of home confinement for lying to federal investigators.

Jones was released last month from a Texas federal prison after completing most of her six-month sentence for lying about doping and her role in a check-fraud scam.

After long denying she had ever used performance-enhancing drugs, Jones admitted in federal court last year that she used the designer steroid from September 2000 to July 2001. Jones was stripped of three gold medals and two bronzes she won in Sydney after the admission.

Jones said on Winfrey's show that her sentence was fair and that losing her medals was fair, too, because of the "question mark" surrounding her performance. She said she will never run again and wants to find a way to inspire young people to make better decisions than she did.

"I don't have athletics anymore to hide behind," Jones said. "In the past, it was Marion Jones, the athlete. ... I don't have that cover anymore. I have really had to find out who I am and why I make certain choices."

Jones' U.S. relay teammates have filed an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport seeking to retain their 2000 Olympic medals. The International Olympic Committee disqualified her teammates, but conceded none of them broke any rules.

Prodded by Winfrey, Jones apologized to her teammates for lying to prosecutors.

"When I stepped on that track, I thought everybody was drug-free, including myself," Jones said. "I apologize for having to put everybody through all of this.

"I'm trying to move on. I hope that everybody else can move on, too."


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