Cyclist Tammy Thomas Pleads Not Guilty

The Associated Press
Friday, January 19, 2007; 4:11 PM

SAN FRANCISCO -- Former elite cyclist Tammy Thomas pleaded not guilty in federal court Friday to charges of lying to a grand jury investigating steroid use in sports.

Thomas, the first athlete charged in a probe that has implicated some of the biggest stars in baseball and track and field, is charged with three counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice.

Thomas, who appeared much slimmer than during her racing days, declined comment after being released on $50,000 bond.

Thomas was banned from cycling for life in August 2002 after the performance-enhancing drug Norbolethone was detected in her urine.

The drug, once an obscure steroid used in human tests in the 1960s, was rediscovered by chemist Patrick Arnold, who supplied the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative with undetectable performance-enhancing drugs and is among five people who have pleaded guilty in the investigation.

Defense attorney Tony Tamburello said outside court that Thomas is innocent of any crimes because she did not knowingly lie to the grand jury when she testified in October 2003.

"She did not know at the time that she was taking that substance," Tamburello said. Nobody told her "this was Norbolethone."

Thomas was a silver medalist in the individual sprint at the 2001 World Track Cycling Championships. She has maintained her innocence and said the positive results might have been triggered by contraceptives she was using.

The indictment accuses Thomas of lying when she testified to a grand jury that she never used performance-enhancing drugs. She also is said to have lied when she testified that she did not get illegal drugs from Arnold, who pleaded guilty last year and was sentenced to three months in prison.

"She never met Patrick Arnold," Tamburello said.

Each count against Thomas carries a maximum five-year prison term and $250,000 fine. She was ordered to appear March 23 in federal court, when a trial date is likely to be set.

The probe has netted guilty pleas from BALCO founder Victor Conte, BALCO vice president James Valente and track coach Remi Korchemny as well as Greg Anderson, Barry Bonds' personal trainer, who served three months and is back in prison for refusing to testify against the Giants slugger.

Authorities suspect Bonds, like Thomas, lied to the 2003 grand jury when he said he never knowingly used steroids. A probe of Bonds for perjury and possible tax-evasion charges is ongoing.

Trevor Graham, who coached track stars Marion Jones, Justin Gatlin and Tim Montgomery, has pleaded not guilty to charges of lying when he said he did not distribute steroids to his athletes or tell them where they could be obtained.

© 2007 The Associated Press