WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) -- Marion Jones' voice never wavered, her reserve never faltered as the words rang out in the silent, stately federal courtroom.

She was a liar and a cheat, she told the judge, her eyes never straying from his face.

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And so ended years of angry denials by one of the world's most celebrated athletes.

The owner of three Olympic golds and two bronze medals, Jones came clean Friday and admitted she used steroids. She pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators when she denied using performance-enhancing drugs, then announced her retirement in a tearful apology outside the U.S. District Court.

"It's with a great amount of shame that I stand before you and tell you that I have betrayed your trust," Jones said, her voice cracking as her mother stood behind her, a strong and supportive hand on her shoulder.

"I have been dishonest and you have the right to be angry with me. I have let (my family) down. I have let my country down, and I have let myself down," she said, pausing frequently to regain her composure. "I recognize that by saying I'm deeply sorry, it might not be enough and sufficient to address the pain and hurt that I've caused you.

"Therefore, I want to ask for your forgiveness for my actions, and I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me."

Friday marked a stunning fall from grace for the 31-year-old Jones. She captivated the country with the goal of winning an unprecedented five gold medals at the Sydney Olympics.

Though she fell short in Sydney -- only three of her five medals were gold, the other two bronze -- her winsome smile and charming personality made her a star. Seven years later, she is broke, her reputation is ruined and she is looking at prison time.

Jones also pleaded guilty to a second count of lying to investigators about her association with a check-fraud scheme.