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January 18, 2008

Jones waits to tell son about prison sentence

National

January 18, 2008

CHICAGO: Disgraced American Olympic hero Marion Jones said she hasn’t told her young son that she is going to jail for lying to law enforcement officials about using steroids and a check-fraud scheme.

Jones was speaking on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” on Wednesday, less than two months before she is expected to begin serving a six months prison sentence. “I put myself in a position to have somebody else determine my immediate future,” said Jones, who also has a younger son and spoke via a satellite link.

“I made that decision. I have to live with it, my family has to live with it. With the grace of God we will get through it and come out even better at the other end,” she added. Jones and her lawyers had hoped she would receive a probation-only sentence.

“I made a mistake,” she told American talk show host Winfrey. “I made a choice, at the time, to protect myself, to protect my family. And now I’ve paid the consequences dearly,” she added.

Jones, 32, pleaded guilty in October to lying to federal agents over a steroid distribution scandal involving California laboratory BALCO and her role in a check-fraud scam. Jones was also sentenced to two years’ supervised release and 400 hours of community service.

Jones must submit herself into custody by March 11 to begin serving the sentence. Jones said she hopes others will learn from her missteps. “I want people to understand that, you know, everybody makes mistakes. ... I truly think that a person’s character is determined by their admission of their mistakes and then beyond that, what do I do about it?” Jones said.

“How can I change the lives of people? How can I use my story to change the life of a young person?” Jones’s tearful confession to doping after years of denials was followed by Jones returning the three gold medals and two bronze medals she won at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Jones captured gold in the 100- and 200-metres at Sydney and

helped the 4x100m relay to gold as well. She was also a five-time world champion.

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