Marion Jones, tacked away snuggly in a Texas federal prison, wrote to President Bush asking for a pardon. The head of the track federation who witnessed her drug-cheating drew up a counter-proposal: DON'T.
Doug Logan -- cheif executive of US Track and Field -- wrote an open letter to President Bush exhorting him not to wipe off Marion Jones's fast sins. The New York Times elaborates:
“Our country has long turned a blind eye to the misdeeds of our heroes,” Doug Logan wrote in an open letter to President Bush. Logan was named chief executive of the sport’s national governing body last week. “If you have athletic talent or money or fame, the law is applied much differently than if you are slow or poor or an average American trying to get by. At the same time, all sports have for far too long given the benefit of the doubt to its heroes who seem too good to be true, even when common sense indicates they are not.
“To reduce Ms. Jones’s sentence or pardon her would send a horrible message to young people who idolized her, reinforcing the notion that you can cheat and be entitled to get away with it. A pardon would also send the wrong message to the international community. Few things are more globally respected than the Olympic Games, and to pardon one of the biggest frauds perpetuated on the Olympic movement would be nothing less than thumbing our collective noses at the world.”
Jones, as we all recall, vehemently denied use of PEDs even to the point of a defamation suit against BALCO executive Victor Conte, whose ring distributed steroids to Jones. Jones was also involved in fraud with her partner drug-cheat Tim Montgomery.
Jones is among about 2,300 offenders seeking pardons and commutations during the final months of President Bush’s term in office. Her lawyer, Henry J. DePippo, did not respond to a request for comment.
The letter sent by Logan was a striking departure from the often-timid remarks made by leaders of various Olympic sports federations. It reflected the anger that many antidoping officials felt after Jones called into question the legitimacy of drug-testing procedures before acknowledging that she had taken illicit substances.
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Carl W. Tobias, who teaches constitutional law at the University of Richmond School of Law and who has tracked President Bush’s pardons, said the chances that Jones would receive a pardon appeared “pretty long and may be getting longer,” in light of Logan’s letter.
Tobias said that Bush had been “extremely stingy” in granting pardons, compared with other recent presidents, and that Jones’s high profile could work against her.
“I just think she would somehow be perceived as getting some slack because of who she was,” Tobias said.
“So much attention is trained on her, and maybe that makes it more difficult than if she were someone who is less well known.”