ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
And I'm Michele Norris.
Track superstar Marion Jones has admitted to using steroids. Her revelation comes in a letter written by Jones to her family and obtained by the Washington Post.
In the letter, she admits to using the performance-enhancing drug nicknamed, the clear. That drug is linked to the BALCO Laboratory at the center of a steroids investigation. Jones won five medals in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. Until now, she had denied allegations of using banned drugs.
We're joined now by NPR's sports correspondent Tom Goldman. And Tom, is this letter some sort of confessional letter to her family?
TOM GOLDMAN: It sure sounds like it. It was sent to close family and friends. It was read to the Washington Post by a person who had been given a copy. And in it, she said she took the steroid known as the clear, as you said, for two years, beginning in 1999. Remember, her great success was in Sydney in 2000.
And Jones said she got the clear from her former coach, Trevor Graham. He told her it was the nutritional supplement flaxseed oil and told her to take it by putting two drops under her tongue.
Now, Graham was indicted last year on charges he lied to federal agents connected to the BALCO investigation. He pleaded not guilty and his trial was scheduled for next month.
Jones said she trusted Graham, never thought for one second she was using a performance-enhancing drug until after she left Graham's training camp in 2002. And then, she said in the letter, red flag should have been raised when he told me not to tell anyone about the supplement program.
Marion Jones said in the letter she plans to fly to New York tomorrow to plead guilty to two counts of lying to federal agents about her drug use in an unrelated financial matter.
In the letter, she said, I want to apologize for all this. I am sorry for disappointing you all in so many ways.
NORRIS: Now, had there been questions about the possibility of using some sort of performance-enhancing drugs? She had won three gold and two bronze medals in the Sydney Games. Some compare her to a female Jesse Owens.
GOLDMAN: Yes, she was incredible. I mean, one of track and field's first female millionaires, an incredible athlete, a sprinter and a long jumper, and of course, her dazzling smile and personality which earned her tons of endorsement deals. But as you mentioned there, Michele, yeah there were lots of rumors swirling around - became more than rumors.
In 2004, Victor Conte, the head of the BALCO lab, which you mentioned, came out on ABC's "20/20" and said, yeah, I gave her drugs and I watched her inject. So there were a lot of rumors swirling around, stories. Her former husband, shot putter C.J. Hunter, actually came out and said that she took drugs as well.
NORRIS: A lot of rumors, but she went out of her way to defend her career for years. Now, this letter seems to contradict what she had been saying for so long?
GOLDMAN: Yeah. You know, the first the thing I thought of when I heard the news today was all the time she passionately defended herself in public. Once, she indignantly called for a public hearing so everyone could hear and see that she was innocent of doping allegations.
One time, we in the media got an urgent message from her high-profile PR team -this was in 2004, when the drug rumors were swirling around - saying there would be a major announcement from Jones. Now, we thought she was going to reveal something, come clean perhaps, but she announced that she had passed a lie detector test administered in her lawyer's office, which proved that she was innocent of any doping allegations and that the matter should be over.
NORRIS: Just quickly, Tom, what happens to her Olympic medals?
GOLDMAN: Her Olympic medals, the three gold and two bronze from Sydney, could be taken away. That will be up to International Olympic Committee officials who will have to figure out what kind of rules they have that will allow them to do that.
NORRIS: Thank you, Tom.
GOLDMAN: You're welcome.
NORRIS: That was NPR's sports correspondent Tom Goldman.
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