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Wednesday 18, Jun 2008

  Coach Trevor Graham found guilty in steroid investigation

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trevor-grahamThe jury announced a guilty verdict in the trial of former elite track coach Trevor Graham. Graham is the latest add-on in the score card of steroid prosecutors stemming from the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative steroid investigation.

The jury convicted Graham of only one count out of the three charges against him. The jury reached a deadlock on the two other charges because, according to reports, at least one juror was reportedly had doubts about the credibility of the prosecution’s star witness, Angel ‘Memo’ Heredia.

Graham was found guilty of lying to federal authorities regarding his relationship with Heredia, a self-confessed steroid dealer and user. Heredia has testified that he had supplied Graham steroids and other banned substances to be used by his track trainees.

The decision was lauded by some groups in competitive sports. “This verdict is another example of how the cooperation between law enforcement authorities and anti-doping agencies is allowing us to get at this problem in a deeper way,” U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Darryl Seibel said. “This verdict also underscores the importance for athletes to make good decisions in choosing who to work with.”

Graham did not testify in his trial; however, some members of his former roster of track stars did, including Olympic gold winner Antonio Pettigrew. Due to his public admission of steroid use, Pettigrew has been left with no choice but to give up his gold medal he won at 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics. Marion Jones, another athlete who trained under Graham, has been stripped of the medals she won dating back to September 2000. This after admitting she had used steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.

And it seems like the crackdown will not stop with Graham’s and Tammy Thomas’ guilty decisions. Thomas, an Olympic cycling gold medalist, was found guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice charges April this year. Many observers say these two trials are just warm ups for Barry Bonds. Slugger Bonds is also set to face a similar trial, which is expected to happen next year.

Saturday 14, Jun 2008

  Pettigrew’s career at risk because of steroids, banned drugs

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Antonio Pettigrew steroidsAntonio Pettigrew’s name popped out in Angel Heredia’s testimony at the perjury trial of Trevor Graham. Heredia said he supplied the bemedalled sprinter with human growth hormone and the endurance-booster erythropoietin or EPO. He showed FedEx and Western Union records as evidence to the jury, saying that they suggested drug dealings from July 1997 to July 2001.

Further, Heredia said it was through Graham that he came to know Pettigrew. Pettigrew was one of Graham’s Sprint Capitol athletes, a group of track athletes who dominated international sporting events including the Olympics. This group included Marion Jones who is currently serving time due to perjury and check fraud case. Jones has been stripped of her five gold medals due to use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.

Because of this testimony, Pettigrew is expected to take the witness stand and prosecutors plan to question him under oath. According to Daily News, if Pettigrew confesses to steroid use “it will present an interesting challenge for non-governmental anti-doping authorities. In the absence of positive urine or blood tests, such anti-doping agencies certainly can rescind an athlete’s Olympic or world championship medals, but typically only within an eight-year statute of limitations.”

This would mean that only the recent awards of Pettigrew are at risk of being recalled, such as the gold medals he won at the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, or the 2001 world championships in Canada.

Pettigrew, who has never tested positive for steroids and other banned drugs, was part of the 4×400 team that won the gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. He also helped set the world record in that event in 1998 and won world titles in the relay in 1997, 1999 and 2001.

Graham’s trial is expected to last at least two weeks, and is being closely monitored in part because Barry Bonds, baseball’s home-run king, is expected to face a trial in the same courtroom within a year. The trial of Trevor Graham is being held in the court of U.S. District Judge Susan Illston, which began May 19 and is expected to continue through next week.

Friday 13, Jun 2008

  Antonio Pettigrew – Another suspect in steroid use?

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Antonio Pettigrew steroidsWhen Angel ‘Memo’ Heredia mentioned the names of athletes whom he claimed he supplied with steroids and other banned substances, one name stood out – Antonio Pettigrew. The key witness in the perjury trial of Trevor Graham, former coach to roster of elite track athletes, said he provided Pettigrew with human growth hormone and the endurance-booster erythropoietin, commonly known as EPO. Heredia, a former discus thrower and steroid dealer, showed Western Union money transfers to the jury, saying that they reflected drug transactions. He testified Graham introduced him to the champion sprinter.

Thus, prosecutors are ready to call on Pettigrew to the witness stand and question him under oath. And it would be a great disappointment if Pettigrew’s has indeed use steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. Pettigrew’s sports career has been impressive. His bio posted at the University of North Carolina site says it all:

He’s an Olympic gold medalist. He’s a five-time world champion. He’s a world-record holder. And now Antonio Pettigrew enters his second season as an assistant coach at North Carolina, where he will share his vast knowledge and expertise with the Tar Heel sprinters, hurdlers and relay teams.

In addition to the Olympic and world championship titles he piled up in the 4×400 meter relay during his career, Pettigrew is a five-time U.S. champion in the 400 meters – over a remarkable span of 12 years. His first title came in 1989, just two years after graduating from high school, and his last came in 2001, an extended period of consistently maintained excellence rarely seen in the world of track and field.

Pettigrew’s incredible success extends even farther, though. He spent his collegiate days competing at St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, N.C. – where he earned his degree in 1992 – and was a 10-time All-America performer and four-time Division II NCAA champion in the 400 meters.

Use of steroids in the athletics, as well as in such games as the Major League and NFL, has been recently dominating national news. Steroids are popular among athletes because they are known to improve the physique and boost the performance. Athletes often buy steroids legally and do not break laws, but the government wants to legislate morality on them.

Tuesday 10, Jun 2008

  Athletes as ‘cheats’, Angel as ‘teacher’, Graham as ‘scapegoat’ – the latest news on steroid scandal

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Sad, but true – seems to be the perfect description to the unfolding events at the Trevor Graham’s trial in San Francisco District Court.

As the trial continues and as Angel ‘Memo’ Heredia speaks from the witness stand, names of (formerly) elite athletes reverberate inside the courtroom. The names of Marion Jones, Tim Montgomery, Antonio Pettigrew, Dennis Mitchell, Jerome Young and many others are mentioned, time and again, as if on a roll call. These athletes are accused of using steroids and now tagged as cheats.

There seems to be no stopping Angel ‘Memo’ Heredia from revealing everything he knows about the steroid use of former track coach Trevor Graham and his bevy of elite athletes. Graham has repeatedly denied that he had association with Heredia, a confessed steroid dealer and user. Graham insisted that he only had one innocent phone conversation with Heredia, and never met him or bought drugs from him.

But Heredia is saying otherwise. He said he and Graham had known each other since 1996, and the key government witness has taped conversations and photos to prove his statements. He testified that Graham back then had wanted a reliable conduit of anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs for his athletes. Plus, according to Heredia, Graham wanted a mentor to teach him how his athletes can beat drug tests.

“Graham said he had read himself some books about drugs, but he wasn’t really knowledgeable,” Heredia said. “He wanted to have a source he could rely on, not only for stuff, but for not getting caught.”

Looks like Graham is now in deep legal and publicity quagmire. His former athletes are also pointing fingers his way. His attorney was saying Graham is being used as a “convenient scapegoat for their past mistakes and their past drug use” by athletes who have been caught using steroids and other drugs.

Other athletes go out and buy steroids freely while a few like Barry Bonds and  Graham are used as scapegoats by the government.

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