Marion Jones' latest race was over just as soon as it began.
The former "Wonderwoman" turned doping suspect was slow out of the blocks and finished runner-up to Chandra Sturrup on Wednesday for the second time in four days.
Jones ran 11.67 seconds in the 100 meters to finish a quarter of a second behind the Bahamian at the Grand Prix Regione Lombardia meeting.
Jones false-started in the race's first attempt, perhaps causing her to be more cautious the second time.
"It was difficult to recover. My race was kind of over from there," Jones said. "I just sat there in the blocks and that was the difference. Once I came up running everybody was two, three steps ahead of me."
Sturrup, who led from the start, also beat Jones on Sunday at the FBK Games in Hengelo, Netherlands. She is pleased to be regaining form after surgery on her right shin in February last year.
"I'm doing good. I'm coming back slowly," Sturrup said, adding that she began to feel comfortable again this past winter. "It's been a struggle getting here. There were days where I couldn't push off with my leg, so I'm happy that it's all coming back together."
Sturrup said Jones is "running pretty well."
"When you're down you have to work to get back on top," Sturrup said. "I know she's a very hard worker. I know that first-hand, she's a good friend also."
Jones said she performed better than her previous race.
"Sunday's race I thought I had a better start. Sunday's race, the second part of the race, wasn't as good as today's race. So if I can put them together, I think I'll be OK," she said.
Jones is trying to regain her form after being implicated in a US government investigation into illegal performance-enhancing substances at the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative near San Francisco.
Although she has never failed a doping test and denies ever using performance-enhancing substances, Jones has been shunned by many European meet organizers. The Euro Meetings Group, which represents many of Europe's top meets, advises against inviting Jones to any events.
The Milan and Hengelo meetings have been the only exceptions so far.
Milan meeting director Franco Angelotti reportedly paid a 30,000 euro (US$36,700) appearance fee for Jones, who said she was "absolutely" grateful.
Jones commanded appearance fees of between US$75,000 and US$150,000 after winning three gold medals at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
Despite there being no entry fee for half of the Arena Civica Gianni Brera, the crowd was still small.
"Not a lot of people. When you come to Europe you kind of expect to compete in sold-out stadiums. It seemed a little quiet," Jones said.
The American sprinter is planning to compete in the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon, on Saturday before entering the US Championships, which begin on June 23.
"I'll run the 100 on Saturday, then I'll see how I run there and decide if I need to go home and train or do one more meet," she said of her plans before the trials.
Also Wednesday, Uganda's Dorcus Inzikuru broke the world record in the rarely contested women's 2,000-meter steeplechase.
Inzikuru's time of 6 minutes, 4.46 seconds improved on the old mark of 6:11.84 -- set by Russia's Marina Pluzhnikova on July 25, 1994, at St. Petersburg.