Jones admitted in a statement to the court before sentencing that she was "scared and nervous about today's outcome," breaking down in tears as she pleaded with the judge to spare her jail time for the sake of her two sons.
  
"Yes, I made mistakes by lying," she said. "I have admitted these mistakes much later than I should have done but hopefully not too late to elicit from you the milk of human kindness."

Medals returned

Last October, the former track star offered a tearful public apology for lying to federal agents and acknowledged that she had taken steroids.

Soon after, she returned the three gold medals and two bronze medals she won at the 2000 Sydney Olympics to the International Olympic  Committee.
 

"Nobody is above the legal obligation to tell the truth"

US District Court Judge Kenneth Karas
All of Jones' results since September 1, 2000, have been stricken from the records and she has been banned from competition by the IAAF, the sport's governing body, even though she announced her decision to retire.

In passing sentence on Friday, Karas said that Jones had not made "a momentary lapse in judgment, a one-time mistake, but instead a repetition in an attempt to break the law".

"Nobody is above the legal obligation to tell the truth," he said.

Karas said that the sentence was meant to deter other athletes from following down Jones' path.
  
"Athletes in society have an elevated status. They entertain, they inspire and perhaps most importantly they do serve as role models for children around the world," he said.

Serious consequences

Jim Scherr, US Olympic committee chief executive, said that Jones' sentence showed "just how far-reaching and serious the consequences  of cheating can be".

Outside the court, a visibly distressed Jones spoke briefly to reporters. 

"I respect the judge's orders and I truly hope that people will learn from my mistakes," she said.

Jones was also sentenced to two years' supervised release and 400 hours of community service.

Former Olympic sprinter Tim Montgomery, the father of Jones's eldest child, and several other people have already have been convicted over the cheque fraud scheme.