Louis Lanzano, Associated Press
Former Olympic champion Marion Jones exits federal court with her husband, Obadele Thompson, following her sentencing Friday in New York.

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Marion Jones was sentenced Friday to six months in prison for lying about using steroids and a check-fraud scam, despite beseeching the judge that she not be separated from her two young children "even for a short period of time."

"I ask you to be as merciful as a human being can be," said Jones, who cried on her husband's shoulder after she was sentenced.

The disgraced former Olympic champion was ordered to surrender March 11 to begin her term.

U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas said he gave her the maximum under the plea deal to send a message to athletes who have abused drugs and overlooked the values of "hard work, dedication, teamwork and sportsmanship."

"Athletes in society have an elevated status, they entertain, they inspire, and perhaps, most important, they serve as role models," Karas said.

Later Friday, the judge sentenced Jones' former coach, Olympic champion Steve Riddick, to 5 years and 3 months in prison for his role in the check-fraud scam. The guidelines called for between 78 and 97 months. Riddick also was given three years' probation and must pay back $375,000.

The 31-year-old Jones also was given two years' probation and supervised release, during which she will be required to perform 800 hours of community service.