Steroid Stories: White and Jones

By Gregory Moore
Updated: March 11, 2008

SAN ANTONIO — “Marion Jones reports to Ft. Worth federal detention center.”

“‘American Hero’ now looks at wearing a different uniform.”

“Kelli White to graduate with MBA in Marketing.”

If the sports story formula holds true, more will be written about Marion Jones going to jail for six months than for former track star Kelli White coming clean.

This is said after reading a piece written by Mark Fainaru-Wada of You remember Fainaru-Wada don’t you? Who doesn’t remember the former San Francisco Chronicle writer who, along with his partner Lance Williams, wrote the now famous book “The Game of Shadows” and who became as much of the story line about the BALCO federal court case as Barry Bonds did.

Well after reading Fainaru-Wada and Williams’ work after they became famous, who else is better to write a story about fallen athletes and doping? Heck they are the preeminent experts in my book.

Yet Fainaru-Wada’s piece that I read via email about Jones’ demise and how she continually tried to con the American public brings something else to light and that is what of the story about Kelli White? Does anyone give this former athlete credit for what she did?

Back in 2004, I began writing my own op/eds about the state of Black athletes and the doping crisis that came about. One of my earliest pieces appeared on the Black Athlete Sports Network website entitled “The State of African American Sports Is Now Officially In Need Of A True Hero”, published on December 7, 2004.

As I like to tell a lot of folk, I’m no Johnny Come Lately on this topic. When the story first broke about Barry Bonds and others, including Jones, I was right there hammering athletes who I suspected where cheating all of us; not just the Black community.

Did I have my suspicions about Jones? Of course I did. Come on she was married to C.J. Hunter and we all know what happened with him. She was hooked up with Tim Montgomery and where is he now? And her coach was Trevor Graham. Need I say more? Jones was caught all up in it and she knew it. But she was track’s golden girl and White wasn’t.

In another piece I wrote entitled “Is It Wrong For A Black Reporter To Be Tough On A Black Athlete?”, I wrote the following: “These stars come into the world of where the microscope is so focused on their moves, they seemed to be shell-shocked when a journalist asks a tough question on his play or a situation that is in front of him”.

Now that was aimed at the piece’s subject, Kobe Bryant and how John Saunders’ interview went back in Dec. of 2004 but it can be applied to how Jones and White have no conducted their lives. For White, she is actually the golden girl in athletics right now; not Jones.

The one thing that was admired about White was the fact that she owned up to her wrong doing. Imagine that. An athlete actually owning up to their own wrongdoing. How novel is that?

Yet as flippant as the remark may be, admiration for White is easily heaped upon her for taking a stance that actually clears her life for more important thins; like living.

As much as she may be the poster child of the BALCO case as far as being stripped by the U.S. Anti Doping Association, you know what she is today? A free woman. As she said in Fainaru-Wada’s piece, “the best thing is I will never have to check the box.”

What box is that you may ask? “The box on the employment application where they ask if you have ever been convicted of a felony,” White replies in the piece.

She’s right. She’s not a felon. Is she stripped of her medals and glory? As far as records go, sure she is. But she is a free woman and Jones is not. Nor is any other athlete who pleads guilty to a felony crime.

What makes this tale about these two women so astounding is the fact that no professional athlete who has gotten caught up in the BALCO web or even the steroids web thinks about how easy it could be to be a Kelli White these days.

They are so busy trying to mount up the attacks that Jones was famous for during her denial period that they do not realize that in the end they could actually come up losers.

Look at Roger Clemons. Look at Michael Vick. Look at Bonds. Pick an athlete and if they suspected of doing something flaky that could give them federal jail time, they probably are doing it.

But do you think any of them understand the ramifications if they lie their way through the whole scenario? Of course not.

But I think Kelli did. I think she realized that if she didn’t come clean from the very start, her life was going to be a living hell for years to come. A small bit of pain, anguish and humility for her brought about a new beginning full of promise.

It’s just too bad that in the sports world, her story is going to be buried while stories about Jones, Clemons and others will thrive for weeks and months.

But in my book, I’ll take a Kelli White story any day. I’d rather have her as a role model to young athletes than the others mentioned. And her story should really be in everybody’s e-mail box.

Or at least we all should be familiar with how it turned out.