Free Marion Jones - Thompson sign now

We believe that Marion Jones is being unfairly punished for her admission of drug use, while athletes such as Roger Clemens are not held accountable.

Despite the existence of physical and circumstantial evidence, Mr. Clemens was able to have a private audience with elected officials, and has been given the opportuinity to defend his reputation on national television.

Ms. Jones is a mother of a newborn, and this was not considered when her sentence was handed down. She is currently serving a jail sentence, while Mr. Clemens will use taxpayer money to avoid owning up to his actions.

She said through her attorney that she would like to start serving her sentence as soon as possible, and Judge Kenneth Karas set March 11 as the "surrender date" unless a designated jail is able to accept her sooner.

Jones had pleaded guilty in October to charges of lying to a federal agent in 2003 about her use of steroids, and was sentenced on two counts -- getting six months in prison on the first count and two months on the second, to be served concurrently.

Before the sentencing, Jones broke down as she asked Karas not to send her to prison. "I plead with you to alleviate the situation by not separating me from my boys, even for a short period of time," she said.

But Karas noted that "athletes in society ... serve as role models to children around the world. When there is a widespread level of cheating, it sends all the wrong messages."

"People live with their choices," he added, "and the choice not to play by the rules has been compounded by the choice to break the law."

In a memorandum filed December 31 with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Jones' attorneys had argued that jail time was unnecessary because "any deterrent message to the public has already been sent."

But in court Friday, Karas said, "There are times when a sentence can have a deterrent factor."

In a presentencing hearing, Jones' lawyers -- citing her history of being a law-abiding citizen -- had argued that the track star, who was stripped of her Olympic medals after pleading guilty to charges of lying to a federal agent about her use of steroids and engaging in check fraud, should be given probation only.

Jones entered her guilty pleas in October and admitted she lied to a federal agent in November 2003 about her use of steroids.

"The guilty plea in this matter and the circumstances surrounding it have been a very painful and life-changing experience for Marion Jones-Thompson," said the memorandum.

"She has been cast from American hero to national disgrace. This part of her story will forever be one of personal tragedy. To be clear, the public scorn, from a nation that once adored her, and her fall from grace have been severe punishments. She has suffered enormous personal shame, anguish and embarrassment. She has been stripped of her gold medals, her accomplishments, her wealth and her public standing."

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Greta HerreraBy:
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