For two glorious moments last week (O.K., one glorious, one kind of blah) we knew exactly where Marion Jones stood: first in the long jump and fifth in the 100 meters at the Prefontaine Classic. Everything else for Jones—who is trying to fend off federal investigators intent on linking her to the BALCO steriod scandal-seemed uncertain and stressful. Not yet accused but feeling the heat, she asked for a hearing before Sen. John McCain's Commerce Committee (request denied). She also held a press conference to proclaim herself clean and announced that she had passed a polygraph test concerning drugs. The woman who won five medals at Sydney in 2000 may be burning more calories trying to remain an Olympic athlete than by actually being one.
And she has only just begun to fight. Jones's autobiography, Life in the Fast Lane, reaches stores on July 8. In the book she says she barely knew BALCO president Victor Conte, and one page is devoted to a statement set in huge red type: I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN UNEQUIVOCAL IN MY OPINION: I AM AGAINST PERFORMANCE-ENHANCING DRUGS. I HAVE NEVER TAKEN THEM AND I NEVER WILL TAKE THEM. She also comes down hard on her ex-husband, shot putter C.J. Hunter, and her ex-coach Trevor Graham—both of whom may testify against her.
But Jones's best hope may be a lack of evidence. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has a check for $7,350 from her account written to Conte and a calendar with abbreviations for what the agency says are banned drugs. ( Jones says that she did not sign the check and that the calendar does not pertain to her.) "With just that, USADA doesn't have Jones," a lawyer involved in the case told SI. "They need someone to explain that evidence. That is where C.J. or Trevor might come in."
Those two are not likely to be pleased by Fast Lane. Jones writes that Hunter, who tested positive for steroids in 2000, lied to her about his drug use, and by the time their marriage ended in 2002, "I began to think the Beauty and the Beast line...used to describe us might be right after all." She blames Graham for her failure to win the long jump in Sydney and alleges he had clients who were doping. Won't these accusations make them want to strike back? Jones says she's not worried: "If they tell the truth I will be cleared."