Carmelita Jeter And Jason Richardson Answer Questions About Banned Agent Mark Block
After Winning Bronze and Silver, Jeter and Richardson Face The Media
By Weldon Johnson, LetsRun.com
August 9, 2012
Yesterday at the Olympics Carmelita Jeter won bronze in the 200m to go along with her silver in the 100m. Since there wasn't a lot of distance stuff going on, for the first time I was able to attend a press conference with Jeter, which was held in conjunction with gold medallist Allyson Felix and silver medallist Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce. As many LetsRun.com visitors know by now, Mark Block, the banned agent who is currently serving a ten-year ban from the sport, has admitted to having a close relationship with Jeter and has been seen with her at meets all across the globe this year. If you are unfamiliar with the story, please see the following earlier reports relating to it:
*LRC Report #1 on Block: Banned Agent Mark Block In The VIP Tent At The Olympic Trials
*LRC Report #2 on Block: Banned Agent Mark Block In Monaco For The Monaco Diamond League Meet
*LRC Report #3 Relating to Block: What Are Carmelita Jeter And Jason Richardson Doing With Mark Block?
*Mark Block Gives His Side of the Story
I decided to ask Jeter about associating with a man banned from the sport for ten years. There definitely was some tension in the air during her response. That's perfectly fine. If press conferences were supposed to be PR exercises, in theory they'd have a whole different set of people in the room. I really wish the IOC allowed me to use the audio recording I have of the press conference, so everyone could listen to my question and Jeter's response, but IOC restrictions do not allow audio.
Immediately after Jeter's press conference was the men's 110m hurdle press conference with silver medallist Jason Richardson, who has admitted to spending time with Block this year as well. I was not planning on asking Richardson about Block, but an answer he gave in the full press conference prodded me to ask him privately about Block after the main press conference.
Jeter and Richardson's answers speak for themselves. I don't want to use this piece to editorialize too much. Both Carmelita and Jason did not evade my questions and I appreciate that.
Me: Carmelita, Mark Block has said he has been following you around this year. Can you talk about the relationship you have with him and what sort of message you feel it sends to associate with a man banned from the sport?
(7 second pause)
Carmelita: I'm going to count to ten, only because I'm up here, I just won a bronze medal for the United States of America. I am a woman that has a medal in the 100 and 200 now.
For me to be asked about my relationship with someone bothers me, but you can ask me anything else other than that but I will answer you.
Mark Block is a close friend of mine. He's a very close friend of mine and I love him dearly. Whatever happened with Mark Block before I came to Mark Block has absolutely nothing to do with me. I love that man. I love his family. I love his daughter. And I don't know how some people are raised but I was raised to always be friends with someone and to have loyalty with people.
And if he got in trouble for whatever he got in trouble for that does not mean I still do not care for him, that does not mean I do not still consider him a close friend of mine because that is exactly what he is. Now, yes, he was banned for the time you said. That does not mean, that he cannot be of management. He cannot be an agent. He comes to meets that I am at, because he is a great supporter of mine. That's why Mark Block comes to things you might see me at because he loves and cares about not only me but other athletes that are a part of Total Sports. Did that answer your question?
Carmelita: Thank you.
Jason Richardson On Mark Block's Mistake
Mark Block has said his relationship with Carmelita Jeter is much closer than his relationship with Jason Richardson. For that reason, and also because I did not want to ask the same question at back-to-back press conferences, I was not planning on asking Jason Richardson about his relationship with Mark Block.
However, when Jason was asked what were some of the reasons for him improving so much in the hurdles the last two years, he said, "The best answer I like to give is you have to surround yourself with the right people. The last two years have been a testament to moving out to LA and getting coached by an amazing coach, John Smith, and having a championship culture in LA with the likes of Carmelita, Allyson (Felix), and Shawn Crawford. Every day I see Olympic champions and record holders and things like that ..."
The "surround yourself with the right people" riled me up enough to ask him about Block, as Richardson earlier this year tweeted he was at dinner with Mark Block. However, the press conference then ended before I could get in a question. A few journalists then went up and talked to Jason afterward. When I joined them, a journalist asked Jason what he had been tweeting during the Olympics.
Jason said, "Sometimes fans need to stay in the stands. Some foolishness managed to tweet its way into the mentions (the "tweet its way into the mentions" is not perfectly audible in my recording and is my best guess for what Jason said) and I decided to make sure I detached myself from having to answer to everybody and what they thought was going on. I will (now) fire up my account and I will have a slew of sermonic tweets I have to say."
(In case you're just starting to follow this issue, Jason got off Twitter during the Olympics after a twitter exchange with LetsRun.com about his relationship with Mark Block.)
I then told Jason I was associated with LetsRun.com and perhaps he was referencing LetsRun.com's tweets. I then asked:
Me: What sort of message do you think it sends associating with Mark Block?
Jason: I just want to take a second. (Pauses)
Me: You are free to associate with him, but I'm just asking the question what do you think (what type of message) that sends? He's supposed to be banned from the sport. I asked Carmelita the same question.
Jason: I'm sure Carmelita gave you the response she felt was true to herself, but I will say to you that everybody makes a mistake. I don't know the exactly the details of Mark's mistake. I know Mark made the mistake completely before I met him. I will say Mark has never gone outside of any lines of friendship. Now if you choose to determine who I'm supposed be friends with by all means feel righteous enough to (inaudible) and tell me what to do. I will say I did enjoy your article. I think I enjoyed also how you tell me I went from 13.3 to 12.9 in one year, which was actually wrong, so you might want to retract that.
Also I want to say I don't have any responsibility to answer to anybody especially your site that actually bothers my astigmatism. So have fun and continue on with your life, but Mark is cool with me, and I've tweeted that I've never failed a drug test. I actually piss praise in excellence (inaudible parts of this last sentence).
Me: I'm not implying that you're on drugs, just look at some of the associations. I will correct the record about the 13.3.
Jason: You can give as many wings (inaudible) to this issues as you want.
Me: Thank you.
Three journalists, two of whom I did not know, came up to me and expressed support to me for my question(s) afterwards.
Editor's note: For the record Jason Richardson says LetsRun.com got his times wrong and Weldon said LRC would correct the record. In the article Richardson is referencing, LetsRun.com wrote, "Richardson had never broken 13.21 until last year and now his PR is 12.98. Granted, Richardson switched from eight steps to seven steps to the first hurdle last year, but the facts are the facts."
According to http://all-athletics.com, Jason Richardson's fastest time before last year was 13.21. His PR is now 12.98. http://www.tilastopaja.org confirms this data. If we are missing something, please email us. LRC stands behind what was written about Jason's times. Here are Jason's best marks by year: 2012 12.98, 2011 13.04, 2010 13.34, 2009 13.29, 2008 13.21, 2007 NM, 2006 13.36 (wind aided).
As for Mark Block's "mistake", his USADA ruling last year said, "Block has not admitted his guilt and has in fact attempted to convince this Panel that he has no culpability for what was done for a variety of reasons. His interactions with Victor Conte were extensive and involved a variety of efforts to cover up or otherwise further doping activities, and his involvement spanned many months." The ruling also said, "Moreover, once a habit of lying is established lapses in integrity are rarely isolated, an observation confirmed by Mr. Block through evidence presented in this case."
More Mark Block: *LRC Report #1 On Block: Banned Agent Mark Block In The VIP Tent At The Olympic Trials
*LRC Report #2 On Block: Banned Agent Mark Block In Monaco For The Monaco Diamond League Meet
*LRC Report #3 Relating To Block: What Are Carmelita Jeter And Jason Richardson Doing With Mark Block?
*LRC #4: Mark Block Gives His Side Of The Story
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