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Muscle Sport Magazine

In the Shadow of Marion Jones

Chryste Gaines Having Trouble Shaking BALCO, with Good Reason

The fallout from the Marion Jones steroids scandal has been large and wide. Someone directly affected was Chryste Gaines, one of Jones’ teammates on the bronze-medal winning United States 100-meter relay team at the 2000 Olympic games in Sydney, Australia.

It has been widely publicized that Jones was stripped of her medals and ordered by the United States Olympic Committee to return them. Chairman Peter Ueberroth then said that the rest of the team should also give their awards back, a gesture that would also hold symbolic value.

“We basically heard the whole thing through the media,” Gaines said. “Our attorneys were contacted and the letter said that we should return the medals, but no one has officially sent us anything saying that we have to.”

Having to give back a medal or not may be the least of Gaines’ troubles. Having already served a two-year ban and being associated with people that read like a ‘who’s-who’ of performance-enhancing drugs and sports, the track and field star should quit while she is ahead.

BAD COMPANY

Although she has never tested positive for steroids (she tested positive in 2003 for modafinil, which was not banned until a year later when it became to be known as a masking agent), Gaines has been linked to them on more than one occasion. While training at the University of Cal-Berkley from 2000-2003, Gaines was joined by Kelli White, who later admitted to being a steroid user. Remi Korchemny, a former Soviet coach and prominent name on the steroid circuit, instructed both, and possibly more. Korchemny first began training Gaines 13 years ago and pled guilty to distributing steroids, including modafinil, in 2005.

White testified that Gaines told her she used ‘The Clear,’ the undetectable steroid made by BALCO, which resulted in the ban. “She had this notion that I had discussed with her about ‘it,’” said Gaines, currently an Academic Advisor at Georgia Tech University. “If we were both taking the same substance, why would we call it ‘it?’

Gaines has been adamant about her claims that she didn’t use PEDs and that people did not give her the opportunity to tell her side of the story, yet she declined to testify in court to counter White’s testimony. When asked about that, Gaines did not go into specifics.

Victor Conte is perhaps the name always connected to steroids, perhaps even more so than Dan Duchaine. Gaines freely admitted that she had been working with Conte since 1995, and still believes in his products.

She recalled when Conte showed her a new product that he had, which he called ‘The Clear,’ otherwise known as THG. “Yes, he gave it to me,” she said. “In sports, people offer you many things.” When asked if Conte told her that it was a banned substance, Gaines’ memory was not as exact. “That I don’t remember. It was so long ago.”

Gaines then claimed that she didn’t use the substance, a remark that – in the opinion of this writer – is extremely difficult to believe. “Just because someone gives you something, does that mean that you ingested it?” Gaines asked in response.

“FROM GARBAGE TO GREATNESS”

Commenting on the improvements that White made while she was using, Gaines said that she began to take notice when she “started killing me in practice.” During 2001, White took that next step. “Not to say that she wasn’t talented, but not to get to where she ended up,” said Gaines.

“She couldn’t even qualify in 2000,” Gaines continued. “She went from a personal-best 11.2 in college to 10.8 and two world titles. I call that from garbage to greatness.”

According to Gaines, White had her ban lowered from two years to one with her guilty plea and testimony.

CONNECT THE DOTS

Conte has stated that Gaines was one of the first athletes that he gave THG to, which she admitted. Korchemny, Gaines’ trainer, had a relationship with Conte and BALCO, and distributed modafinil, which Gaines tested positive for. White trained with Korchemny and Gaines and tested positive for steroids, later testifying that Gaines talked about using. The Court for Arbitration in Sport banned Gaines for two years, mainly on White’s testimony, which the CAS regarding as “most damaging.”

In Gaines’ defense, her numbers throughout her career have paralleled. “I’ve been consistent over the years,” she said, which sounded like something that she has stressed time and time again to mostly deaf ears. “I could only drop from 10.89 in college to 10.86. Either I was taking bad drugs or I was just horrible.”

KEEPING UP WITH THE JONSES

Gaines was asked about the legacy that she and Marion Jones would leave. “She’ll be fine,” Gaines said, in reference to Jones. “She’ll do her jail time, apologize and write a book about it.

“I’ve maintained basically the same stats on everything,” Gaines followed up regarding her legacy. “I served my ban quietly. I haven’t tried to talk about anyone than me. I still have my records. They stand for themselves.”

That, they do. But how much do they mean in the Court of Public Opinion?

Photo Credit:canoe.ca (Marion Jones with Cryste Gaines)

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