Thu, May 22, 2008 - Page 18 News List

Investigator calls athletes cheats in US doping trial


Marion Jones' husband injecting her with banned drugs. Tim Montgomery going into Mexico with an admitted steroids dealer to test his blood for doping. Antonio Pettigrew routinely receiving overnight packages stuffed with the oxygen-boosting EPO.

That and much more of US athletics’ doping scandal was tediously laid out during testimony on Tuesday at former coach Trevor Graham’s trial.

Graham is charged with three counts of lying to government authorities investigating a massive sports doping ring centered at the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) in the San Francisco suburb of Burlingame.

It was only the second day of an expected two week trial, but already the names of many of the nation’s doping-disgraced athletes from around the 2000 Olympics in Sydney were dredged up.

Jones, Montgomery and Pettigrew each won gold in Sydney while training with Graham.

Lead government investigator Jeff Novitzky testified that shot putter C.J. Hunter, who tested positive for banned substance right before the Sydney games, twice injected his then-wife Jones with EPO.

The government’s key witness, admitted performance enhancing drug dealer Angel “Memo” Heredia, testified he helped those athletes and others — through Graham — obtain banned performance-enhancing drugs.

With three months to the Beijing Olympics, the day’s testimony focused on the many athletes Heredia claims to have set up with performance-enhancing drugs. All three of Graham’s charges are connected to his telling Novitzky that he had only one benign telephone call with Heredia in 1996 and never met or bought drugs from the Mexican native.

Heredia testified that in December 1996 Graham drove 22-hours from Raleigh, North Carolina, to Laredo to consummate a drug distribution relationship. Heredia even had photographs of the trip, where he said Graham stayed at his apartment for several days and that they crossed the border to Mexico at least once.

In addition, eight others, including BALCO founder Victor Conte and Jones, have pleaded guilty to various charges of drug dealing and lying to federal investigators. Jones is serving a six-month prison sentence and Montgomery was recently sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to writing fraudulent checks.

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