Marion Jones ’97, who rose from two-sport stardom at Carolina to international renown as a five-medal winner in the 2000 Olympics, was sentenced to six months in prison Friday by the U.S. District Court in White Plains, N.Y.
Jones had been convicted of lying to federal agents about her use of performance-enhancing drugs. She also was tied to a check-fraud case. Judge Kenneth Karras told Jones he was not convinced that her acknowledgment that she took the drugs represented admission that she knew what drugs she was taking. Karras said he wanted Jones’ case to “educate children and school-age athletes about the importance of competing without cheating.”
The sentence includes two years of probation and 400 hours of community service.
Jones won three gold and two bronze medals in Sydney in 2000. She had repeatedly insisted she never used performance-enhancing drugs until her admission in October.
It was the government’s check-fraud case against Jones that led her eventually to plead guilty to making false statements to prosecutors investigating the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative. Jones admitted that from September 2000 to July 2001 she was given a substance by her trainer, Trevor Graham, that she later realized had been a performance-enhancing drug.
She was ordered to give up her Sydney medals to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. The executive board of the International Olympic Committee has forbidden her to participate in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and possibly from all future Olympic Games, depending on the outcome of further investigations.
Jones likely will remain decorated at UNC. Late last year, her basketball and track and field coaches said her college achievements, for which there is no evidence of the use of performance drugs, will stand.
Her name is engraved in glass in the windows of the Track and Field Hall of Honor, and her face is on a banner in the Eddie Smith Field House indoor track. Her image is on a basketball banner that hangs from the rafters of Carmichael Auditorium.
After Jones was disqualified by the IOC in December from her 2000 and 2004 Olympic events and stripped her of her 2000 medals and 2004 fifth place in the long jump, Carolina officials decided to take down pictures of Jones from the Olympics but will leave those that commemorate her successes at Carolina.
“There is no reason that our banner should come down out of Carmichael,” basketball Coach Sylvia Hatchell said last year. “And she – Marion – was one of the most coachable athletes I have ever coached in 33 years. She led our team to a national championship in 1994. We would not have won a national championship without Marion Jones.”
Track Coach Dennis Craddock said last year that he hoped she would be able to redeem her reputation.
“All we can do is say that Marion did a good job as a student-athlete for us, and we’re sorry this happened to her when she got in her professional ranks, and she’s young, and she’s got time to rehabilitate herself and do something positive for young athletes forever.”
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