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Disgraced Olympian Marion Jones is asking a federal judge to keep her out of prison, but the only real question may be how much time she gets.
Jones, who apologized, retired and gave up her five Olympic medals after admitting she lied about steroids and a check-fraud scheme, was to be sentenced Friday by U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas in White Plains.
Her lawyers have told the judge that Jones has been punished enough and should be sentenced only to probation, or perhaps be confined to her home. Prosecutors are not insisting on prison time either, saying any sentence between probation and six months would be fair.
But Karas hinted that he was focused on incarceration when he asked the lawyers to advise him about whether he could go beyond the six-month maximum that was suggested in her plea deal. He also wanted to know whether he could sentence Jones separately for the steroids and check fraud convictions. Both sides advised against it.
Jones, now 31, was once the most celebrated female athlete in the world. A runner and long jumper, she won three gold and two bronze medals at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Her big smile and charming personality made her a star, and endorsements made her rich.
But in October, Jones told the judge that she lied to a federal investigator in November 2003 when she denied using performance-enhancing drugs. She said she took steroids "several times before the Sydney Olympics and continued using it after.''
She also admitted lying about her knowledge of the involvement of Tim Montgomery, the father of her son Monty, in a scheme to cash millions of dollars worth of stolen or forged checks. Montgomery and several others have been convicted in that scam. They include former Olympic champion Steve Riddick, who was to be sentenced later Friday.
After her guilty pleas, Jones was released pending her sentencing. She immediately walked outside and addressed the public, saying, "It's with a great amount of shame that I stand before you and tell you that I have betrayed your trust.'' Nearly in tears, she added, "I have been dishonest, and you have the right to be angry with me. I have let (my family) down. I have let my country down, and I have let myself down. ... I want to ask for your forgiveness for my actions, and I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.''
Jones returned her Olympic medals _ golds in the 100 meters, 200 meters and 1,600-meter relay and bronzes in the long jump and 400-meter relay _ even before the International Olympic Committee ordered her to do so and wiped her records from the books.
Jones was among the athletes who testified before a grand jury in 2003 in an investigation into BALCO, a lab at the center of the steroids scandal in professional sports. In 2004, she said, "I have never, ever used performance-enhancing drugs.'' She also sued BALCO founder Victor Conte after he repeatedly accused Jones of using performance-enhancing drugs and said he watched her inject herself.
But on the day she pleaded guilty, prosecutors said a 2003 search warrant at BALCO uncovered ledgers, purchases, doping calendars, and various blood-test results connected to Jones and former coach Trevor Graham.
This program aired on January 11, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.
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