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Editor's Note: On Saturday, February 2, 2002, we received an email from PJ Browne - an Irish journalist who covers track and field and other sports for various European magazines including Athletics Weekly and Irish Runner - asking for the opportunity to share his experiences (rather disturbing ones in our mind) with Regina Jacobs at the Verizon Millrose Games as they serve as a nice follow-up to the our own drug-related interview of her on Tuesday, January 29, 2002.  We were more than willing to take him up on his offer.  We hope you enjoy his email to us as well as his column.  They appear below.

Email sent to LetsRun.com on Saturday, February 2, 2002:


PJ Browne is the name. I attended what passes for a track meet in NYC last night. I was asked to do so by Athletics Weekly (UK) and Irish Runner (Dublin),  I read your recent interview  with Jacobs, if you could call it that. So, in the interests of good sport and honesty I decided to ask a few questions of my own. Of course you won't find any of this exchange in the official transcripts. I'll tell you one thing - There is an agenda at work here, a sinister one at that. Do you want me to write an account of what happened at the post race press conference?

It's quite amusing, but in truth it's a disgrace. The only reason I am asking you is because I don't want to waste my time putting a piece together. She had an interesting comment to make about your website.

Tell me if you want something on this. I'm not doing it for money. Athletics is my hobby, my passion, an expensive one at that. But I'll be damned if I ignore cheating and insincerity. Tell me if you want it and you will have it in a day. I feel the need to say something, just as I felt the incredible urge to give Jacobs an almighty kick up in the arse.

PJ Brown's Guest Column For LetsRun.com
For The Present

        “I don’t know about the rest of you
         But I feel a tremendous nostalgia,
         Not for the past,
         Rather, nostalgia for the present.”

(With apologies to Andrei

If the human condition is immutable, the cheaters in athletics always will outnumber the solutions. This was brought home to me quite forcibly during the recent edition of the Millrose Games in New York.

I also began to see the wisdom of an observation which
John Hoberman, renowned expert on doping and the elite athlete, (Editor's Note: Hoberman is the author of Mortal Engines - an acclaimed look at how science (drugs) became so intertwined into sports) made to me. “There are people in high positions in the sports world,” he explained, “who are talking about the suicide of elite sport. That’s what may be happening now, gradually.”

“This being the case,then the question becomes what replaces it, because the appetite for the spectacle is there. One thing to watch for is the process that is going to gradually legitimize boosted athletes and scientifically modified athletes as if they were World Wrestling Federation characters.”

But I digress, as my friend David Feherty, CBS golf analyst is won’t to say. Feherty was once an avid runner. It began with short walks with his dog. The walks became jogs and then a transformation took place. Feherty takes up the story.

“I always enjoyed an easy jog. But then I got divorced from my wife and my running increased considerably. It got to the point where I was running twice a day, seven days a week, averaging well over a hundred miles. Eventually my wife stopped chasing me and the running stopped. That would have happened when I reached 100 miles per week.”

These days, Feherty jogs occasionally in the company of his dog and is happily remarried with a delightful two- year old daughter, Erin Torrance. The key word here is chasing, but the reader will have to bear with me a little longer for the explanation.

I was only recently made aware of 
LetsRun.com. I have an instinctive disdain for all websites and their associated chat rooms. I’m from a different time and I am suspicious of change and technology. The written word is sacrosanct. That’s why I veer to the poet’s and their poetry when I seek the truth. Unfortunately, the freelance writer, particularly one who has an interest in sports, increasingly finds it difficult to place material in the mainstream press. When it comes to athletics, one doesn’t even bother. Consequently, informed and critical athletic writing is not to be found in the newspapers and popular athletic magazines. That’s a pity, because athletics is the victim of an appalling disservice.

This writer attended the Millrose games at the behest of Athletics Weekly (UK) and Irish Runner (Dublin) The latter is 25 years old this year, a minor miracle given the lack of funding and support that threatens to scupper it. Prior to the New York event, there was an article relating to Regina Jacobs on
LetsRun.com which I found perplexing.

In Europe, Jacobs is regarded as an average athlete of modest ability. So there was some consternation on my part about the allegations and innuendos surrounding her. The predominant impression was that she has taken illegal substances in the past, and may or may not have been detected. There was also an implication that she feigned illness at the Olympics to avoid testing. Let me reiterate here that this was merely the impression that I got from the article.

I decided to ask a few questions at Millrose, hoping to clarify and restore my faith in the innate goodness of people. Call me naïve if you want, but I am passionate about athletics. I tend to believe that what distinguishes sport from the real world around it is the degree to which the athlete has to have values and has to adhere to them.

Ethics matter everywhere, but in sport they matter more than anywhere else. In a darkening world of violence, political expediency, materialism and pseudo- culture, sport remains a bastion of decency, a place where virtue is rewarded and cheating exposed – or so I thought.

And so to the press conference, which Regina Jacobs attended shortly after winning her 4
th consecutive Millrose women’s mile. I asked Jacobs about the possibility of her going to Dublin for the World Cross Country next month. Given her undoubted fitness and impressive recent wins, it seemed an obvious question to ask.

What may have seemed obvious to me did not translate into an answer. “ I don’t know ,” she said. “I take one race at a time, and go from day to day. Sonia (O’Sullivan) is the greatest.”

“You will not be the oldest athlete running there,” I responded. (That honor belongs to 40- year old Ann Keenan-Buckley of Ireland).

“I don’t see that age has anything to do with it,” she answered. That was fine. Then came the follow up question.

“Regina, can you account for the undercurrent of hostility toward you that I have recently read about?”

I don’t understand your question.”

“There seems to be a resentment in certain quarters, perhaps even an anger….”

“If you’re talking about the LetsRun website, well nobody monitors them.”

At this point, I was interrupted by the moderator, a pleasant blonde haired woman who seemed a bit startled by my questions.

“Don’t you know that Regina is idolized in this country, and she is the most popular female athlete that we have?” she said in a condescending manner.

Well, clearly I didn’t and I don’t, but I pressed on about the dichotomy between the different perceptions.

I never did get to finish. “Why don’t you just drop it?”
  a man to my left interrupted. “Just drop it already pal.” I don’t know whether that was a threat or what but it was the end of the line for this writer.

Drop what, I’m thinking. I thanked Regina but she didn’t hear me as she was on to the next question.

I’m not used to such rudeness and it really caught me off guard. Not only did I get no answers, but now I’m being told what to do in a hostile manner.

As I exited the interview area I passed the man who had made the comments. Maybe I should drop you, I thought. The urge was strong but I remembered my mother’s credo in relation to dogs. “An ounce of breeding is better than a pound of feeding,” she often said. She was a noted breeder of Cairn Terriers and Greyhounds.

Before leaving the arena I went to the press area to collect the official quotes. I looked at the transcript of the Jacobs interview, which contained only a few terse comments, which is standard procedure. However, one quote stood out and here it is.

(On whether she has any other goals for this year) “Defending my world cross-country (sic) championship." (Editor's note: We assume Regina actually meant defend her US cross-country championship, but it was transcribed improperly)

Which brings me back to my earlier reference to chasing.
Have you ever seen a dog going after its tail? You know the way a dog goes around and around  in circles in a futile attempt to grab its own tail?  That was the predominant impression I was left with after trying to question Regina Jacobs. The only difference between Regina and the dog is that eventually the dog gets tired or bored and lays down. Regina, however, continues to spin.

PJ Browne,

The above named writes about athletics and various sports for European magazines. He is a former professional soccer player, and a recovered competitive athlete. He divides his time between Limerick, Ireland, and New Jersey.


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