Marion Jones has been cleared to resume competing Track and Field after her second urine sample came back 'negative' for the endurance enhancer EPO. Jones tested positive for the blood-boosting hormone on June 23, after winning the 100 metres at the U.S. national championships for her first sprint title since 2002.
What is of interest in this story is not only the fact that Jones was cleared of doping, but two other interesting pieces of information that once again have me frothing over personal rights being trampled on. First, Jones' first sample results saying that she was positive was not supposed to be made public until the second sample was examined...you know, 'innocent until proven guilty'. But in this case, with Marion Jones being so high profile and with some of her associates in the past being doping offenders, some over-zealous dingbat dispenses frontier justice and villifies Jones before due process is served.
Then, after the second test revealed that Jones was clean for the race in June, World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) chairman/president Richard Pound was asked to comment. World Anti-Doping Agency chairman Dick Pound said "EPO is open to interpretation. Maybe the first one was made too hastily," the Montreal lawyer said in a phone interview Thursday with The Associated Press. "You wouldn't think there would be variations between the amount in sample A and sample B. I'm sure there will be some explanation forthcoming from the lab or from USADA."
I have no problem with the work that WADA and other affiliated agencies are doing to crack down on cheaters, but not at the expense of someone's rights and freedoms as an individual. While WADA has to be tenacious with the cheaters, jumping to conclusions without proof or justification is now more the norm than the exception.
Sadly, these agencies will continue this grandstanding as long as there is a microphone or notepad around, as nothing makes more headlines than controversy. WADA and the USADA will be reluctant to issue any kind of apology to any athlete wrongly accused as it would show them to be bungling idiots looking to point out cheaters as opposed to what they should be seen as, which is the standard bearer of conduct in a sport corrupted by cheating.
Until WADA and the USADA apply the 'high road' mentality to their practices, their credibility will always be questioned.