Tim Montgomery did have it all.
The money and fame, the records and endorsements.
Montgomery, who transferred from Blinn College in Texas to run track at Norfolk State in 1994, won a silver medal in the 400-meter relay at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, then a gold in the same event at the 2000 Sydney Games. And in 2002, he ran the 100 meters in a world-record time of 9.78 seconds.
Then his world came crashing down.
It began in 2005, when Montgomery was charged with using illegal performance-enhancing drugs. Though he had not failed a drug test, the United States Anti-Doping Agency issued a four-year suspension, which the Court of Arbitration for Sport lowered to two years.
Even worse, all of his results and awards since March 2001 – including his world record – were stripped.
The downward spiral was only beginning. He became entangled in a counterfeit-check ring with his one-time NSU track coach Steve Riddick, involving more than $5 million in phony checks. While awaiting sentencing, he was arrested and accused of distributing heroin. He would later plead guilty.
“When I got suspended … I never had something get pulled away from me that I loved,” Montgomery said recently. “And the result from having something I lost made me go into a place and do things that really weren’t of my character.”
Montgomery would spend the next 4½ years in prison.
It gave him time to reflect on his life. And it wasn’t pretty. He knew he had hurt many and abandoned those who truly loved him.
“I learned … that sometimes we put emphasis on things that have no value.”
Montgomery was released in May 2012. He spent three months in a halfway house, working construction as a condition of his release.
“I had earned a couple of million dollars in my track career,” Montgomery said. “And now I had to humble myself to work for 12 cents a day.”
Montgomery, who today trains athletes in Gainesville through a program called NUMA (Never Underestimate My Ability) Speed, said prison taught him about life and got him to think how he wants to be remembered.
“If your purpose is all about you and what you accomplished, then you haven’t found your purpose,” Montgomery said. “What I’ve been through, I can touch millions of people. Had I not been through what I’ve been through, I would have only touched a few people.”
Recent UNDERCOVER investigation into Performancing Enhancing Drugs Tim helped with:
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