Saturday, January 19, 2008

Jones sentenced to six months in prison

White Plains, New York (Sports Network) - Disgraced Olympic track and field star Marion Jones was sentenced to six months in prison Friday for lying to federal prosecutors.
U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Karas handed down the sentence after Jones pleaded guilty to two charges last October. The second charge is in connection with her knowledge of a check-fraud scam involving her ex- boyfriend, former sprinter Tim Montgomery. . Jones, 32, was sentenced to six months for lying about her steroid use, and two months for the check-fraud case. Judge Karas allowed Jones to serve the sentences concurrently.
"As everyone could imagine, I am extremely disappointed today, but as I stood in front of all of you for years in victory, I stand in front of you today, I stand for what is right," Jones said in a statement outside the courthouse after her sentencing. "I respect the judge's orders and I truly hope that people will learn from my mistakes. Thank you for your time."
The sentence completes a fall from grace for Jones, who was once regarded as one of the greatest female athletes in the world. She must report to prison by March 11, and also has two years of probation and 400 hours of community service tacked on to her prison term.
"Today's sentencing is illustrative of just how far-reaching and serious the consequences of cheating can be," United States Olympic Committee chief executive officer Jim Scherr. "The fact that an athlete with so much talent and promise, who so many people looked up to, made the decision to cheat is a terrible disappointment. This unfortunate situation does, however, offer a lesson to young people about the importance of making good choices and honoring the value of clean competition."
In the past, Jones denied the use of any steroids, including to federal prosecutors when questioned in 2003. However, she finally admitted last October, in an emotional and tearful public statement to her family, friends, and fans, to using the steroid "the clear," produced by the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative -- also known as BALCO -- that was given to her by her trainer Trevor Graham.
Jones admitted to taking the steroids leading up the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. Jones was named Athlete of the Year by several organizations in 2000 for her accomplishments at the Sydney Games when she became the only female track and field athlete to win five medals -- three of them gold -- at a single Olympics. She has been stripped of all of those medals as a result of her admitted steroid use.
"Today's sentencing concludes a sad series of events," USA Track & Field president Bill Roe and CEO Craig Masback said in a joint statement. "The revelation that one of the sport's biggest stars took performance-enhancing drugs and repeatedly lied about it, in addition to being a party to fraud, has no silver lining.
"But, it is a vivid morality play that graphically illustrates the wages of cheating in any facet of life, on or off the track. We hope that all Americans will take to heart those lessons. The sport of track and field in the United States has moved on since Marion Jones competed, reaching even higher levels of success, as a team, than when she was at her peak. No one wanted to see this happen, and we hope that Marion and her family can move on as well."

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