The BALCO Legacy

Story written by EPelle

I have been part of a three-year debate on Track & Field News's message board about the BALCO case - most often times the lone ranger on the Marion Jones suspicion case.

I have spent countless hours racking up notes, quotes and information surrounding key figures in the case, that I now have collected more than what seems a book's worth of information on Marion Jones and Victor Conte.

I usually keep my thoughts about Jones' BALCO involvement to the message boards, but Track & Field News's Chief Officer stated yesterday that Jones' positive-negative this past summer had nothing to do with BALCO, and he was still perplexed over Justin Gatlin's positive test.

Track & Field News - the "Bible of the Sport" as they are called - has not taken any position on the subject of drugs usage in athletics since the genesis of this long debacle. Suddenly, when the BALCO legacy is revisited by the San Francisco Chronicle, one member takes the stance that Jones' initial positive test had nothing to do with BALCO.

"...I'd say the general public greatly associates Gatlin w/ BALCO for the simple reason of Graham's involvement with it. And just as damning for track was the Jones incident. Even though her positive/negative this summer had nothing to do w/ BALCO, I think virtually every story on her (and they were legion) rehashed Conte, C.J., Monty, etc., etc. We're still stuck needing hip waders in this swamp."

I have a difficult time understanding why no one connects the dots between Conte's recovered USADA letter concerning Gatlin and Gatlin's positive test three years later for the same drug - testosterone - that Conte stated Gatlin had received by Trevor Graham through Andrew Tynes.

I'm not going to go into a super long dissertation on the state of affairs as they concern BALCO, because I have done so ad infinitum on message boards for the past two years. This one will have a high word count, but is only a small outline of how things really stack up in the BALCO world.

Whereas folks stated this was all old news, and it should have been hung up with the Conte conviction, muddy shoes continue leaving deep stains on the fabric of the sport.

The statement above about Jones' positive-negative having had nothing to do with BALCO seems a bit too conclusive in the absence of knowing the exact details of the initial test and the results of the second. Moreover, I ask the question of how it can be stated with 100% conviction that Jones had nothing to do with BALCO when Patrick Arnold stated the sprinters had sneaky ways of getting drugs from him?

Make no connection here between Jones and Arnold - this is simply a question posed to provide an alternative to the statement that Jones steered clear of any personal BALCO entanglement.

A recurring question to which no one has been able to offer a definitive answer is: Can a liar tell the truth?

There are two types of liars in the BALCO affair: liars who have cheated, broken rules/laws and been caught, and court-proven testimony liars.

So far in the three-and-a-half-year-old BALCO case, Tim Montgomery, Chryste Gaines, Kelli White, Conte, CJ Hunter and Angel Heredia have been proven to be liars - no mistake about it. However, none of them have been court-proven liars when it comes to their testimonies in the BALCO case. Their witness testimony has never come back to harm them, personally.

Jones team banked a great deal of her innocence on Montgomery's testimony - something they maintained supported what Graham had stated, namely that Jones was innocent.

Trevor Graham has been indicted for lying to the court. He's not convicted, merely suspected.

What will a conviction do to the nature of the Jones case? If her counsel say that Graham's testimony keeps her from the law's tight grip, but Graham's testimony later is proven to have been false, does that weaken her lawyers strategy of positioning themselves behind Graham in the first place?

Trevor Graham's trial has the potential of being the first open-court BALCO testimony which can connect dots between supplier-receiver-user should he not cop a plea and opt out of testifying.

The International Court of Arbitration could not force Montgomery's hand, and they could not coerce Gaines to testify, either. Had either one gone on record to testify on their own behalves, questions would have immediately arisen about the purported Gaines involvement with Jones, whereby Gaines is stated to have demanded a cut from Conte if Jones - a direct competitor - received the same drugs as Gaines.

Montgomery told the United States Grand Jury this information, but was not required to speak about the matter in an open court. He and Gaines took their punishments laying down. It is not standard protocol for athletes to avoid the CAS witness stand, despite what some here have stated. This is the one chance ahtletes have available to speak freely and directly to a panel considering their ultimate fates.

Heredia, a court-proven, non-testimony liar will be called to the United States v Trevor Graham trial to testify for the prosecuting attorney. When his testimony comes to pass, his having stated he made drugs schemes for Marion Jones and others will come back into the picture, and heavily under fire. That testimony will be refuted and denied by Graham's counsel, and it will be up to a jury to determine whether or not Graham is guilty.

If Graham is proven guilty, more weight can be garnered for a United States v. Marion Jones
and/or USADA v. Marion Jones case.

Many readers around the world wonder why the United States government have not acted on information it received three years back, and, unfortunately, continue believing that Graham's case will simply be more of the he-said, she-said merry-go-round upon which the news reports have been spinning since Conte went on air on "20/20".

However, as I stated earlier this winter on the Track & Field News message board, there are bigger fish to fry.

Tammy Thomas and Graham may be the first to come out in the open with who did what, when, where and how. We already know why.

Why do I continue to bring up this three-year-old information about Conte, Montgomery and Gaines, and don:t ever seem to give it a rest? The reason is two-fold:

  1. To prepare you for the hurricane gathering strength on the other side of the waters - one which has been slowly twirling along a path due west until its day of appointment.
  2. To keep you informed, involved and in touch with a story that didn:t end when teams of scholars had hoped it would - or when one athlete said that his/her test "proved that I have never taken a drug".

As long as there is news to cover, you'll get the hard, cold facts in an unadulterated fashion. One hopes for the sake of everyone who has love for this sport that this long, dark chapter will conclude, and everyone can go back to the business of appreciating good marks without suspicion.

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