Ex-Coach's Trial Likely 'Explosive'
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Track coach Trevor Graham said yesterday he expects his federal trial on charges of lying to federal investigators to expose the performance-enhancing drug use of retired track and field stars from around the world, but Graham said he is not even considering taking a plea deal in the case.
Graham -- the former coach of jailed sprinter Marion Jones who called himself the victim of a "witch hunt" -- said in a telephone interview that he has rejected a number of offers to discuss plea bargains with prosecutors.
He claimed that athletes likely to face exposure during his May 19 trial in federal court in San Francisco have connections to admitted performance-enhancing drug dealer Angel "Memo" Heredia, the government's lead witness.
Graham was indicted 18 months ago on three counts of making false statements to federal investigators about his relationship with Heredia. He faces up to 15 years in prison and $750,000 in fines if convicted.
Graham said Heredia's client list extended from the Caribbean to the United States to Europe, according to documents obtained in discovery.
"The problem with my trial now, you've got the Olympic Games coming up," Graham said, referring to the Aug. 8-25 Games in Beijing. "There's going to be a lot of publicity on a lot of people's parts who did a lot of things behind closed doors. . . . Now it's all going to be dragged out in front of the whole world. It's going to embarrass the United States and it's going to embarrass these athletes. These athletes are retired. They've moved on."
Reached by cellphone, Heredia said the trial would be "explosive." Added Heredia, "I got my list, and Trevor has his list."
Former 400-meter runners Michelle Collins and Calvin Harrison are expected to be among the witnesses, according to documents filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California. Collins and Harrison received performance-enhancing drug bans for their connection to the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (Balco), a nutrition company that distributed steroids to track athletes and baseball and football players before its exposure in 2003.
Graham was indicted after being interviewed in connection with that case. He had secretly turned in the syringe full of steroids to anti-doping investigators that helped kick off the investigation of Balco. He contends that athletes, agents and coaches affected by the Balco scandal have conspired to ruin him.
"I shouldn't even be charged in the first place," Graham said. "You have to be charged with something material to some kind of investigation. . . . It's all payback right now. That's what got me in the situation I'm in right now."
Said Heredia, Graham "is the biggest liar there is in track and field, and the biggest hypocrite."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Parrella, one of the attorneys on the case, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Heredia told federal investigators in a December 2006 interview that he supplied a variety of drugs to many prominent athletes, coaches and agents. The Post obtained a copy of the interview from a person not authorized to release it. Heredia, however, has not been charged with any crime.
Graham's attorneys argued in court yesterday that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency should be required to produce notes documenting interviews between USADA attorneys and a number of former athletes with connections to Graham: Harrison, Collins, sprinters Garfield Ellenswood, Duane Ross and Tod Long, and shot putter C.J. Hunter, according to Graham and court documents.
USADA attorneys argued that the agency was legally protected from having to produce the requested documents, but U.S. District Judge Susan Illston sided with the defense and granted the motion.
Hunter was once married to Jones. She is serving a six-month jail sentence after pleading guilty to lying to federal investigators about her steroid use. She alleged in her plea agreement last November that Graham gave her steroids.