The disgraced sprinter once called the world’s fastest woman was introduced Wednesday as the newest member of the WNBA’s Tulsa Shock and she offered no apologies for her steroids use or her time in federal prison. She was poised and ready for questions about her troubled past.
“The word redemption is not in my vocabulary,” Jones said at a news conference, flanked by team president Steve Swetoha and coach Nolan Richardson. “I’m a competitor, I want to play against the best in the world, and I know that I will be doing that.”
Her bid for a new career comes a decade after she starred at the Sydney Olympics, winning gold in the 100 meters, 200 meters and 1,600-meter relay, and bronze in the long jump and 400-meter relay. She was stripped of all five medals after admitting in 2007 that she was using performance-enhancing drugs—a designer steroid called the “clear”—at the time of the games.
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Jones also spent about six months in a Texas prison for lying to federal prosecutors about doping and her role in a check-fraud scam.
The 34-year-old Jones joined the team just four days after working out for Richardson, who is also the team’s general manager. She was signed to at least a one-year contract but terms were not disclosed.
Jones was the starting point guard on North Carolina’s national championship team in 1994 and she was drafted by Phoenix in 2003 but never played in the WNBA.
“I think when I even started to think about this 10 months ago, I know how much the game has grown from the time that I played,” Jones said. “And that became even more of a challenge for me, because I know that although I know certain things and played a certain way, that it’s 10 times faster, that the athletes are 10 times more skilled.”
WNBA president Donna Orender, who attended the news conference, said Jones generates interest in the league because she’s a highly accomplished athlete who has competed on a global stage.