Marion Jones released from prison

Marion Jones released from prison

Updated Friday, September 5th 2008, 6:04 PM

Marion Jones
Sprinter Marion Jones was released from a federal detention facility Friday after completing a six-month sentence for lying to federal agents investigating the BALCO doping conspiracy.

Jones was released at 8 a.m., according to LaTanya Robinson, an officer at the San Antonio community corrections office, which oversees halfway houses such as the one Jones was in.

Jones, 32, must now complete 800 hours of community service and will be on probation for two years.

She was one of the most dominant Olympic sprinters in history at the time the BALCO ring was uncovered in the fall of 2004.

Even as evidence of her drug use piled up over the years, she repeatedly and angrily denied doping, right up until she abruptly confessed in the fall of 2007, pleading guilty and making a tearful apology outside a courthouse.

Jones also admitted to lying about a check-fraud scheme involving her fellow sprinter Tim Montgomery, the father of her older son Monty.

Montgomery received a 46-month sentence earlier this year.

In early May, Jones reported to a correctional facility in Fort Worth, Tex., and was assigned the inmate number 8486-8/054. Since Aug. 19, she has been at a halfway house in San Antonio.

In a letter to friends and family sent just before her guilty plea, Jones said her former coach Trevor Graham had given her what she thought was flaxseed oil but later determined was “the clear,” a designer steroid also known as THG that was distributed by the BALCO laboratory in Burlingame, Calif.

Friday, BALCO founder Victor Conte – who has already done time and is seeking to publish his tell-all book – said Jones deserves a chance.

“Marion Jones deserves an opportunity to redeem herself for the mistakes she has made in the past,” Conte said. “I’ve made similar mistakes, so I know firsthand how difficult it has been for Marion and her family. Hopefully, she can find a way to help young athletes of the future to make better decisions than she made.”

Graham, for his part, was convicted by a jury in a U.S. District Court on May 30 of lying to federal investigators who traveled to his home in North Carolina to ask him about steroids. Graham’s sentencing is set for Oct. 15.

A public outcry erupted in July over Jones’ application for a commutation of her prison sentence. Her attorney had filed the request on March 12 – just five days after she reported to jail.

The news of her application for commutation led the top official of USA Track and Field to issue an open letter to George W. Bush discouraging the president from showing Jones mercy.

“To reduce Ms. Jones’ sentence or pardon her would send a horrible message to young people who idolized her, reinforcing the notion that you can cheat and be entitled to get away with it,” wrote Doug Logan.

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