The five medals won by Marion Jones in Sydney are history after the track sprinter sent a letter to close family and friends admitting that she used steroids before the 2000 Olympics.
On Monday she agreed to return the medals after pleading guilty October 5 in a New York courthouse to lying to federal investigators regarding her use of steroids.
Jones said she took “the clear” for two years, beginning in 1999, and that she received it from former coach Trevor Graham, who told her it was flaxseed oil, reports the Washington Post.
“The clear” is a performance-enhancing drug linked to BALCO, the lab at the center of a federal steroids investigation. Until now, Jones had repeatedly denied she ever took any form of performance-enhancing drugs.
In addition to pleading guilty for lying, Jones also pled guilty for lying to investigators about her association with a check-fraud scheme.
Outside the courthouse, Jones broke down in tears as she apologized for her actions, saying she fully understands she has disappointed her friends, family and supporters.
“I have been dishonest, and you have the right to be angry with me. I have let [my family] down. I have let my country down, and I have let myself down,’’ she said.
Jones won three gold and two bronze medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where she emerged as one of the United States’ brightest stars. But her reputation took a hit in subsequent years by repeated allegations of steroid use.
In her letter, Jones said she lied when she was questioned in 2003 by federal agents investigating BALCO, (the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative). Jones said she panicked when agents presented her with a sample of “the clear,” which she recognized as the substance Graham had given her.
She added that she didn’t realize she’d used a performance-enhancing drug until she stopped training with Graham at the end of 2002.
“Red flags should have been raised when he told me not to tell anyone,” the Post reported, quoting the letter.