Steroids, like any drug, have the ability to change things. They can increase muscle mass, strength, and even speed.

But for Marion Jones, they changed her life.

Jones, now 33, was a guest lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton Sports Business Initiative series on race in sports yesterday.

The former Olympic sprinter, who pleaded guilty in October 2007 to lying to federal investigators about taking performance-enhancing substances, spoke for nearly 30 minutes about her career as one of the country's first millionaire black female athletes.

Steroids were part of the reason she was imprisoned at the Federal Medical Center-Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas, for 6 months. She was released in September.

While Jones didn't touch on her experience in jail, she knows that she let down fans and supporters as a role model for up-and-coming female athletes.

"The realities of my race have held me to a higher standard to do the right thing," Jones said. "I have responsibilities that I did not live up to.

"One poor judgment or one bad reaction can wipe away all of your hard work. One poor decision can take away all that you've achieved. The right decisions will protect and preserve all of [your] coveted success and dreams."

Jones said that without Title IX legislation, enacted 37 years ago to give women equal opportunity in athletics, her life would have been totally different.

"Title IX has made a profound impact on girls in youth sports," Jones said. "For women, especially black women, Title IX guarantees college education and academic opportunities through scholarships that otherwise would not have been available."

As a freshman, Jones helped North Carolina win the 1994 women's NCAA championship in basketball before she decided to concentrate on track. She went on to win two gold and three bronze medals with Team USA in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.

Jones, who is expecting her third child, has since been forced to return her medals and her slate of running records has been wiped clean.

But so has her outlook on life.

"I now have the greater responsibility of sharing my story to protect and preserve the same opportunities I had . . . by keeping the Title IX dream alive." *