Disgraced sprinter Tim Montgomery has revealed how an obsession with beating Maurice Greene led to him using performance-enhancing drugs and set him on a path of self-destruction that has ended with him serving an eight-year prison sentence.
Montgomery, the former world 100m record holder, has served 18 months of his sentence for dealing heroin and handling counterfeit cheques, crimes he was convicted of after being banned from athletics for doping in 2005.
“I destroyed myself,” Montgomery acknowledges in an interview with The Times, conducted in the Alabama prison where he spends his days earning 12 cents an hour sweeping leaves. “I’ve been trying to be a man all my life and now I’m in here treated like a kid.”
Montgomery admits he never had any second thoughts about crossing the line that separates clean athletes from drugs cheats like himself and his former partner, Marion Jones.
“I’m not going to sugar-coat it, there wasn’t even a second thought that I was cheating,” he said. “It was all about getting one over the system and if I could, I would.
“That was what I learnt on the streets. But I tell you, if I’m cold, Marion’s even colder. Marion didn’t care about anything.”
Montgomery says his desire to be the world’s best was fuelled by a jealous obsession with the success of Greene, a contemporary who overtook him in his early 20s.
“Maurice got in my head real bad,” he said. “I wanted everything that he had. The meet organisers and the shoe companies, they said, ‘If you can’t beat these guys -- Greene and Ato Boldon -- we can’t pay you like them.’
“It was bad enough without him lining up and flexing his muscles the way he did and flicking his tongue. It was embarrassing the way he was out there clowning the other athletes. Our races weren’t about the times we ran; for me it was personal. All I wanted was the person.”
The desire to beat Greene led to Montgomery joining Jones in the group of athletes coached by Trevor Graham, who introduced him to steroids.
“I was thinking, ‘This is the green light.’ All I wanted was the big Nike contract, I wanted to be the star.” Montgomery also revealed how he and Jones were so confident they would not be caught doping that they used to keep steroids in their fridge. “Being suspended for two years didn’t cross my mind,” he said. “When I lived with Marion, I got cameras put on the gates. If a tester came, I’d know not to answer.”