Marion Jones Thompson

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While she was disappointed to be sent away, Marion says she believes her sentence was fair. "I believe in the legal system, Oprah, and I didn't want to go," she says. "Sure, I can compare my story to recent stories about other athletes or other people who were involved in certain situations and didn't get much time. It would be easy to do that. It would be easy to point the finger and say, 'It's the judge.' Or it's that. But you know what? It's me. I made the bad choice to put my future and my freedom in somebody else's hands to make that choice for me. I did that. And because of that, I have to live with it."

Marion says her experience has taught her to question other people's motives. It has also forced her to realize she can no longer hide behind athletic prowess. "In the past, it was 'Marion Jones, the athlete.' And Marion Jones, the person, a lot of times, got to hide behind that. And while I was in prison, I learned that I used the athlete part of it all as a cover for a lot of my weaknesses. I think a lot of the choices that I made in the past were because of those weaknesses," she says. "Now, of course, I don't have that cover anymore and I have really had to find out who I am."

With her life of athletic competition and very public legal ordeals behind her, Marion says she is eager for the future. "I am energized by this next chapter. I think really it's going to be bigger and better than that last," she says. "My goal now is to find out how to connect with people on a much bigger level. How can I help young people make certain choices and not make certain bad choices like I did? ... What am I going to do with this negative experience and turn it into a positive?"
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FROM: Former Olympic Medalist Marion Jones' First Interview After Prison
Published on October 27, 2008

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