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Disgraced US sprinter leaves jail

5 September 08 16:44 GMT

Disgraced US sprinter Marion Jones has left prison after serving a six-month sentence for lying about steroid use and involvement in a drugs fraud case.

Jones, 32, left the facility in San Antonio, Texas, at 0800 (1300 GMT), a prison spokeswoman said.

Once one of the most famous female athletes in the world, Jones won five medals at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

But these were stripped from the mother-of-two after she admitted lying to federal investigators in 2003.

Jones had denied knowing that she took the banned substance tetrahydrogestrinone (THG), known as "the clear," before the 2000 Olympics.

But in October 2007 she pleaded guilty to two charges of perjury and was sentenced in January 2008 by a federal judge in New York, reporting to prison on March 7.

Jones also pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators in 2003 about a separate cheque fraud case involving her former boyfriend, sprinter Tim Montgomery, the father of her son, Monty.

Montgomery and several others have been convicted in that scam.

Jones returned her medals even before the International Olympic Committee ordered her to do so, and has since had her name expunged from the record books.

Hers was one of a number of high-profile doping cases involving top American athletes that have prompted the US Olympic Committee to team up with Major League Baseball and the National Football League with an initiative aimed at combating drug use in US sport.

"Marion Jones deserves an opportunity to redeem herself for the mistakes she made in the past," said Victor Conte, the founder of the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative (Balco).

"I've made similar mistakes, so I know first-hand 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," Conte told BBC Sport.

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