|Marion Jones enters the U.S. courthouse in White Plains, N.Y.(Getty)
(ATR) The IOC says it will move swiftly against Marion Jones, perhaps by the end of the year, following her admission to using performance enhancing drugs prior to the Sydney Games. USOC chairman Peter Ueberroth is demanding that she return her five medals from those Games.
Jones pleaded guilty in a U.S. Court on Friday to charges of lying to federal investigators about using performance enhancing drugs ahead of the Sydney Olympics. In addition, she pleaded guilty to charges involved with a bank fraud scheme with her ex-boyfriend, Tim Montgomery, himself a disgraced sprinter over drugs and criminal behavior. Jones is to be sentenced in January; as much as a year in jail is possible.
After her plea in White Plains, New York, Jones, 31, faced the media, delivering a statement that offered no excuses for her conduct.
"You have the right to be angry with me," she said.
“I have let my country down and I have let myself down. I recognize that by saying that I'm deeply sorry it might not be enough and sufficient to address the pain and the hurt that I have caused you. Therefore I want to ask your forgiveness for my actions and I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me,” Jones said.
Her admission that she lied to investigators about taking steroids for Sydney clears the way for an IOC Disciplinary Commission to take up the question of whether Jones should be expelled from the Sydney Olympics, her medals stripped.
“With this admission, we can accelerate and speed up the procedures,” says Thomas Bach, chair of the three-man commission formed three years ago to investigate Jones, but with no evidence until now, the panel has done next to nothing.
“With the admissions, the facts are quite clear. I think it can be finalized by the end of the year”, Bach tells AP.
With five medals in question from Sydney, expulsion for Jones would mean 11 changes on the medals tables for those events. Also at stake are medals won by Jones with her teammates in two relay events.
|A tearful Jones asks for forgiveness. (Getty)
competed in the 100m, 200m, 4x100m, 4x400m and the long jump.
Banishment from competition is also likely from the International Association of Athletics Federations and the United States Anti Doping Agency. The IAAF could also strip Jones of all her results during the period in which she used performance enhancing drugs.
IAAF spokesman Nick Davies told the Associated Press “our rules are clear if she confesses”.
World Anti Doping Agency President and IOC Member from Canada Richard Pound laments the turn this case has taken.
“It’s the destruction of a heroine of the day. It's sad at one level, but it's tawdry cheating at another level”.
John Coates, IOC member from Australia and President of the Australian Olympic
|Jones was at the top of the world at the Sydney Olympics. (Getty)
Committee said nothing will bring justice to the athletes Jones competed against.
“If the reports are accurate and if she does in fact acknowledge steroid use at the Sydney Olympic Games then that's a good thing”. Coates added “I don't think an acknowledgement now will ever right the injustice for those other ladies”.
Coates said he hopes Jones is stripped of her medals.
Jon Drummond, a team mate of Jones said the news took him by surprise.
“It's funky, because you wanted to believe she was clean. It's like that old saying, 'cheaters never win.' So no matter how glorious or glamorous things look, you'll get caught and pay a price for it”.
A spokeswoman for U.S. President George Bush told reporters today that the president “was saddened by the news”.
U.S. Olympic Committee chair Peter Ueberroth, repeatedly refers to Jones as “Ms. Jones” in a statement calling for her to surrender her Sydney medals.
“After years of denying that she used banned substances, Ms. Jones has finally decided to come forward and admit the truth. Her admission is long overdue and underscores the shame and dishonor that are inherent with cheating,” said Ueberrroth.
“Her acceptance of responsibility does not end with today’s admission, however. As further recognition of her complicity in this matter, Ms. Jones should immediately step forward and return the Olympic medals she won while competing in violation of the rules.
“As a result of the choices she made, Ms. Jones has cheated her sport, her teammates, her competitors, her country and herself. She now has an opportunity to make a very different choice by returning her Olympic medals, and in so doing, properly acknowledge the efforts of the vast majority of athletes who choose to compete clean,” said the USOC chair.
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