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Seven years after winning a women’s record five Olympic track and field medals and snagging multimillion-dollar endorsement deals, Marion Jones is broke.
The sprinter is heavily in debt, fighting off court judgments and down to a bank balance of about $2,000, according to recent court records reviewed by the Los Angeles Times.
Last year a bank foreclosed on her $2.5-million mansion in an area of Chapel Hill, N.C., where Michael Jordan was a neighbor. She was also forced to sell two other properties, including her mother’s house, to raise money.
Jones’ financial woes were revealed in a 168-page deposition in a breach-of-contract suit she filed in Dallas against veteran track coach Dan Pfaff. Pfaff countersued and won a judgment against Jones for about $240,000 in unpaid training fees and legal expenses.
Legal bills have plagued Jones since 2003, when suspicions of drug use emerged and she was linked to the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) after a federal raid. Jones retained attorneys for her BALCO grand jury testimony, for negotiations with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in her fight to avoid being banned from competition, for a defamation lawsuit she filed against BALCO founder Victor Conte, who accused her of taking performance-enhancing drugs, and for taking on Pfaff in her breach-of-contract suit.
Last year, a Jones urine sample tested positive for the performance-enhancing drug EPO. Jones immediately quit a European track tour and returned to the United States. Although she was cleared when a backup sample tested negative, she missed at least five major international meets, forfeiting an estimated $300,000 in appearance and performance fees.
In her prime, Jones was one of track’s first female millionaires, typically earning between $70,000 and $80,000 a race, plus at least another $1 million from race bonuses and endorsement deals.
In 2000-01, she competed in 21 international events, including the Sydney Olympics, where she won five medals — three gold.