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Jones is sentenced to six months

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  • Marion Jones is sentenced to six months in prison
  • She had admitted lying about taking steroids
  • She had also lied about her part in a check fraud scheme
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Marion Jones was sentenced on Friday to six months in prison, two years of probation and community service in a federal court. She had admitted lying about taking steroids and her part in a check fraud scheme

Jones had previously admitted lying to federal investigators.

Before the sentencing, Jones broke down as she asked Judge Kenneth Karas not to send her to prison. "I plead with you to alleviate the situation by not separating me from my boys, even for a short period of time," she said.

But Karas noted that "athletes in society ... serve as role models to children around the world. When there is a widespread level of cheating, it sends all the wrong messages."

"People live with their choices," he added, "and the choice not to play by the rules has been compounded by the choice to break the law."

In a memorandum filed Dec. 31 with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Jones' attorneys had argued that jail time was unnecessary because "any deterrent message to the public has already been sent."

But in court Friday, Karas said, "There are times when a sentence can have a deterrent factor."

Later Friday, the judge sentenced Jones' former coach, Olympic champion Steve Riddick, to 5 years and 3 months in prison for his role in the check-fraud scam. The guidelines called for between 78 and 97 months. Riddick also was given three years' probation and must pay back $375,000.

In a presentencing hearing, Jones' lawyers -- citing her history of being a law-abiding citizen -- had argued that the track star, who was stripped of her Olympic medals after pleading guilty to charges of lying to a federal agent about her use of steroids and engaging in check fraud, should be given probation only.

Jones entered her guilty pleas in October and admitted she lied to a federal agent in November 2003 about her use of steroids.

"The guilty plea in this matter and the circumstances surrounding it have been a very painful and life-changing experience for Marion Jones-Thompson," said the memorandum, filed Dec. 31 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

"She has been cast from American hero to national disgrace. This part of her story will forever be one of personal tragedy. To be clear, the public scorn, from a nation that once adored her, and her fall from grace have been severe punishments. She has suffered enormous personal shame, anguish and embarrassment. She has been stripped of her gold medals, her accomplishments, her wealth and her public standing."

In addition, her attorneys noted that Jones has lost her livelihood, as "professional track and field is the only career Marion has ever known." There was no need, the attorneys claimed, to send her to prison, as she posed no threat to the public.

Jones told the court in October that her then-coach, Trevor Graham, first gave her steroids in 1999, telling her it was flaxseed oil. She said she took the steroid known as "the clear," or THG, from that time until 2001, including during her competition at the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney. Her admission contradicted years of public --- and often angry -- denials from her regarding steroid use.

In 2004, she filed a $25 million defamation lawsuit against Victor Conte, founder of BALCO (Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative), marketer of THG, accusing him of trying to "destroy her career and reputation" when he said he supplied her with performance-enhancing drugs. The lawsuit was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount, and Conte in 2005 pleaded guilty to conspiracy and money laundering.

Jones became one of athletics' all-time greats when she won three gold medals and two bronzes at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, but she has since been stripped of every medal dating back to September 2000 after her doping admissions.

In October 2007, Jones admitted to having taken steroids before the Sydney 2000 Summer Olympics. As a result of these admissions, Jones accepted a two-year suspension from track and field competition, and announced her retirement from track and field on October 5, 2007.

The United States Anti-Doping Agency stated that the sanction "also requires disqualification of all her competitive results obtained after September 1, 2000, and forfeiture of all medals, results, points and prizes." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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