One-time Olympic superstar Marion Jones on Friday began a six-month jail sentence for lying about her steroid use, a punishment likely to grab the attention of baseball home-run king Barry Bonds.
Jones (32) reported to the Federal Medical Centre-Carswell, a correctional facility in Fort Worth, Texas, United States Bureau of Prisons spokesperson Traci Billingsley said.
Her incarceration demonstrated the increasing role of government authorities in tackling doping, an issue once left to sports officials.
Like Jones, Bonds is facing perjury charges that stem from the Balco steroid distribution scandal.
Baseball pitching great Roger Clemens is also now the target of a perjury probe, after members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform questioned whether he lied under oath when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs during a Congressional hearing.
The high-profile cases come amid calls from some lawmakers to tackle doping in sports with legislation.
Athletics officials were never able to prove doping allegations against Jones, which she vehemently denied for years and boasted that her clean drug tests proved her innocence.
But when faced with charges of lying to federal agents about taking steroids and about her role in a check-fraud scheme, Jones made a tearful confession last October.
She admitted she used Balco’s designer steroid THG from September of 2000 to July of 2001 and was sentenced to six months in jail and two years of probation.
Her request to be spared jail time for the sake of her two young sons went unheeded by US District Court Judge Kenneth Karas, who said she had not made ”a momentary lapse in judgment, a one-time mistake, but instead a repetition in an attempt to break the law”.
Bonds, the former San Francisco Giants slugger who broke Hank Aaron’s revered all-time home run record by belting his 756th career home run on August 7, has also steadfastly denied knowingly using banned drugs. — AFP