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Jones asks judge for leniency

2 January 2008

Marion Jones Marion Jones
Former Olympic champion Marion Jones says she has been punished enough and should not have to go to prison for lying about steroids and check fraud.

In court papers filed on New Year's Eve, Jones' lawyers asked a federal judge to let her off with probation when he sentences her next week.

"She has been cast from American hero to national disgrace," the memo said. "The public scorn, from a nation that once adored her, and her fall from grace have been severe punishments. ... She has been stripped of her gold medals, her accomplishments, her wealth and her public standing."

Jones admitted in court in October that she lied to federal investigators. Outside court, the former track and field star announced her retirement and said through tears, "It's with a great amount of shame that I stand before you and tell you that I have betrayed your trust."

She has since relinquished her five Olympic medals.

As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors suggested she be sentenced to six months in prison at most. In pre-sentencing papers filed Dec. 21 prosecutors said anything between no time and six months would be appropriate.

That filing included a doping calendar from the files of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative indicating Jones used several performance-enhancing drugs. Prosecutors said the evidence shows "a concentrated, organized, long-term effort to use these substances for her personal gain."

They said her false statements "derailed the government's investigative efforts."

In the check fraud scheme, Jones admitted lying about her knowledge of the involvement of track star Tim Montgomery, the father of her older son, in a scheme to cash millions of dollars worth of stolen or forged checks.

Montgomery, who once held the world record in the 100 meters, pleaded guilty in the conspiracy.

Jones' papers include letters from friends about her good works improving sports facilities in Belize and working to immunize infants in Ghana.

Letters were included from Jones' husband, Obadale Thompson; Melissa Johnson, a friend and former teammate on the North Carolina women's basketball team who is now a Comedy Central producer; Henry McKay Jr., a former member of the UNC track team who is now CEO of Bancorp; and Sue Humphrey, head coach of the 2004 women's Olympic track and field team.

They said Jones is devoted to her two children and is essential to their care "in every way that a mother can be."

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