Why You Shouldn't Believe Marion Jones: Vol. 35

Story by Eric.

This is the 35th submission in a long series about Marion Jones, a former elite sprinter who won honour and earned endorsements, fame and fortune by method of fraud. The 30th series introduced Trevor Graham into the picture.

Marion Jones began her professional athletics career in March 1997 with a working relationship with Trevor Graham – a coach she’d later turn over as a conspirator to defraud the sport and ruin her career, and a man who would be sentenced to 12 months in home-confinement for lying to U.S. Federal authorities concerning the BALCO affair.

Though this section of the series may be a general history lesson for some of you, the information contained in this series is imperative to the sum of the whole.

Having stated earlier in this series that attorneys on Marion Jones’s side would attempt to create reasonable doubt for you to make a clear distinction of guilt, Graham’s attorneys – one of whom has also represented clients in criminal cases involving mail, wire, computer and Medicare fraud, trade-secret theft, and export, antitrust and money laundering violations – understandably, did the same during the Novitzky cross-examination during the trial’s second day.

Here’s what happened:

Novitzky, during his discussion of the raid on the BALCO lab, showed the jury a file with Graham’s name on it seized during the December 2003 raid which he led on Conte’s business premises. Novitzky was asked about the word “beam” scribbled in hand-written notes in the folder.

“Beans,” according to the New York Daily News, is a slang word used to describe oral testosterone pills.

Keane, a former United States Attorney who has 20 years of criminal and civil practice and chairs his firm’s White Collar Crime Practice Group, stated that the word “beans” could have been “beam,” which he reminded the jury is a type of device used to time athletes. Keane then pulled up on a monitor the other jottings scribbled on the page, each which in fact, had been scribbled “beam” – a material fact referring to three different timing-system companies using “beams” to mark the start or finish of a run when an athlete crosses the laser device.

Though not a consequential shift in jury opinion, it did create an early vibe of the government not having paid close attention to information it purported linked Graham to Conte.

Heredia also took the stand for the first time on Tuesday afternoon 2008-May-20, telling the story of how he grew up in Mexico and played sports – including throwing the discus. Heredia, speaking about 45 minutes into his testimony, stated that he had met Graham in December 1996 – a fact which Graham had denied, stating only that he had only a phone conversation with Heredia.

Heredia produced six photographs which showed him and Graham together along with Randall Evans and Alvis Whitted in Texas from Christmas 1996, with Heredia stating that the three people stayed with Heredia in his apartment and crossed over the Mexico border to obtain illegal drugs and even worked out on a local track in Laredo.

Heredia stated on record during his first day of trial that he provided Tim Montgomery, Raymon Clay, Whitted, Randall Evans and Antonio Pettigrew illegal drugs either directly or through Graham, with Pettigrew receiving EPO through overnight express packages sent to him. Heredia stated that Graham had phoned in orders for performance-enhancing drugs as often as four times per week.

Pettigrew, according to Federal Express shipping records entered into evidence, received drugs from Heredia from 1997-July to 2001-July.

Pettigrew, whose personal best of 44,21 was run during the apparent steroid era (1999) with Graham, was part of the gold medal-winning 4X400 relay team at the 2000 Olympics (2.56,35), and ran the second leg (43,2 split) of the world-record setting team which won the Goodwill Games in 1998 (2.54,20). The IAAF, acting on Pettigrew’s confession of drug use, removed that 4x400m world record from its history books on 2008-August-12.

Pettigrew would have received the drugs following the US National Championships in 1997 – which he won (44,65) if the dates provided are accurate, and he would go on to record 15 sub-45,00 400m times during that four-year time frame.

The 2000 Sydney team, as a result of Heredia’s testimony against Graham and Pettigrew’s confession under oath demonstrates Pettigrew had taken drugs, was stripped of its title as half of the team were doped; Jerome Young, competing on the team, was later found to have been on drugs during that period and also confessed in court of having been under a doping scheme administered by Heredia and tacitly – if not fully – acknowledged by Graham.

Pettigrew won the IAAF World Championships in Tokyo in 1991 (44,57 over Britain’s Roger Black and American teammate Danny Everett).

Pettigrew also ran on the victorious 4x400m teams America put up in Athens, Greece in 1997 (he ran the second leg (43,1 – tied for history’s second-fastest) of the team which ran 2.56,47); in Seville, Spain in 1999 (he ran the second leg (43,9 split) of the team which ran 2.56,45); and finally in Edmonton, Canada in 2001 (he ran the second leg (43,9 split) of the team which ran 2.57,54). Pettigrew also anchored the United States in a close contest for gold (they won silver) in the 1991 World Championships 4x400m (2.57,57).

Pettigrew, following his sworn testimony on the trial’s fourth day on Thursday, 2008-May-22, could potentially lose his honours from 2000 and 2001, as the statute of limitations on drugs cases is eight years. USADA could charge him with a non-analytical positive, much as they did with Tim Montgomery, Chryste Gaines and Michelle Collins. Young and Mitchell, who along with Pettigrew also swore before the court that they took drugs, account for three Olympic gold medals and seven IAAF World Championship gold medals.

Evans, who was also fingered as a direct link to Heredia, had testified before a Grand Jury in the case as you earlier read.

Clay, Whitted, Evans nor Pettigrew ever failed an anti-doping test administered to them during their careers, due in large part to Heredia’s request to have all their blood samples collected to establish their baseline haemoglobin levels to keep them from testing positive.

Marion Jones also underwent similar protocol with Heredia, and he displayed to the court blood test results he’d requested early in 2000 on her to establish her own baseline. Heredia, according to reporters covering the court case – including The New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle – advised Marion Jones to begin taking EPO in small dosages and gradually increasing the doses; four weeks after the initial test, and, following EPO use, Marion Jones’s haemoglobin levels apparently revealed the same levels of an athlete who had been training at altitude according to Heredia.

The infamous calendar bearing Marion Jones’s name was also shown, with a specific week picked out to demonstrate for the court the cycle of drugs Marion Jones was under, and what the drugs stood for, according to Novitzky.

Regarding Montgomery, Heredia explicitly stated that Graham wanted to “put him on the program, with drugs”, and had made a trip to Mexico with Montgomery in 2001 to purchase performance-enhancing drugs, take private urine tests as well as private blood tests to demonstrate the effectiveness of being clear of the testing protocols in place at the time.

Heredia, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, said he bought the drugs in Mexican pharmacies and then express-mailed them to Graham and his athletes in North Carolina; he received payment by Western Union money or express-mail cash. [1]

Heredia took the stand first on the third day of the trial, stating that he mailed Marion Jones EPO, growth hormone and insulin ahead of the Sydney Olympics, and he then added the names of Garfield Ellenwood, Jerome Young and Dennis Mitchell to the list of names he began testifying about on Tuesday.

Graham then had incriminating evidence played before the court in a recorded conversation between Heredia and himself taped in 2006 by Novitzky and IRS Special Agent Rogers, who was previously named.

Heredia also claimed that he kept in touch with Graham about their progress with Marion Jones, and, four weeks before the Sydney Games, he received a call from Graham stating that Graham was worried about an outbreak of acne on Jones’ body – a point C.J. Hunter also stated had occurred during her drug-taking.

Heredia re-assured Graham that it was unlikely to be an EPO side-effect, and was more likely to be an allergic reaction to an injection; Marion Jones had apparently been afraid of needles.

In cross-examination on the third day, Keane questioned Heredia about his motives in testifying, asking Heredia about his attempts at pursuing a book deal (which this author knows to have been true by my own attempts to help Heredia in Scandinavia and the United Kingdom the past two years through a third party) and whether or not he had spoken to journalists about the case before its commencement.

The fourth day of testimony created a Catch-22 for Pettigrew, as he was called to witness for the government against Graham. Heredia, on the third day, had opened up the door to demonstrate in no uncertain terms that Pettigrew had received shipments from Heredia, with the only uncertainty – and shadow of doubt – being that Heredia stated those shipments and payments to and from Pettigrew were for illegal, performance-enhancing drugs.

Pettigrew’s judgment hour had come, and he’d been left with two choices: Corroborate the story Heredia stated and risk losing his credibility and previous earnings/titles, or deny the story and possibly end up perjuring himself before the court.

Pettigrew chose to take the appropriate steps and confess of his wrongdoing – a fact which, if accepted by the jury as being truthful, would also set a scene for the possibility of Marion Jones’s origin and date-stamp on her drugs-taking.

Pettigrew has confessed to using human growth hormone and EPO during his career, starting in 1997 – the same year Marion Jones arrived back on the scene, before most of his major international gold-medal performances were noted in his career.

Pettigrew testified in court on Thursday that Graham encouraged him to talk to Heredia about steroids.

He scrolled down on his cell phone on the track and gave it [Heredia’s number] to me,” said Pettigrew. [2]

Pettigrew’s testimony, which included cross-examination, was followed by corroborating evidence Jerome Young provided in stating that Heredia helped him procure EPO, and that Graham was fully aware of it, concluding, the drugs “would help me compete”.

Glenwood Ellenwood and Dennis Mitchell followed with testimony stating that Graham had been aware of their doping activities, with Mitchell stating that Graham twice injected Mitchell with human growth hormone.

Mitchell stated that Graham told him, that, in order to run 9,8 seconds in the 100m dash – the standard at the time of his drug-taking, “you need to do these things [take drugs]”.

Mitchell ultimately ended up running 9,91 seconds for the 100m at the 1991 IAAF World Championships in Tokyo – a personal best time he would equal five years later in Milan, and completed his career with three IAAF World Championships 4x100m gold medals (1991, 1993, 2001), as well as a gold medal in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Mitchell also won a bronze in the 100m dash at the 1992 Olympics.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle’s account of the fourth day, Mitchell stated under oath that Graham advised him, “Memo can get you anything you need.” [3]

Mitchell, who testified he worked with Graham for a few months in 1997 and in 1998, did not break 10,00 during either of those seasons, and was banned in 1998 for elevated testosterone levels – a fact he states had nothing to do with Graham.

No more athletes were to testify on behalf of the prosecution, with the defense waiting until Tuesday, 2008-May-27 – the day the trial was to resume following a scheduled break and a national holiday – to call its witnesses.

So what really happened of substance that first week before everyone went on break, Graham’s team could devise a counter option to fend off the personal accounts made by athletes who stated they were there, were specifically in the know, and knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Graham was in on the whole thing, too?

Heredia stated he’d committed a “no-no”. He’d broken laws of the United States of America concerning drug trafficking. He’d doped certain athletes. He’d helped others fly under the radar and collect – steal – fame and fortune in the form of five medals hanging around their neck in Sydney, Australia. He spoke out for the very first time about the deep well of speculation circling about for four years that he had had previous interactions with Marion Jones, Tim Montgomery and C.J. Hunter.

His testimony was followed by specific accounts by athletes who confessed of cheating – and one who lied to authorities when initially asked about his involvement in the component of this tricky puzzle followed testimony by the man who stated he made plans for Graham’s camp, himself.

Graham sat quietly in black suits each of the first four days in a courtroom over which Judge Susan Illston was presiding and holding order, and watched calmly as the accusations piled up on top of each other, the accounts became more real, and his opportunity at any further denial quickly fading with each word spoken by men who’d stood with their hands on a bible and swore to avoid prison by telling their stories just like they occurred in their fullness and with nothing omitted.

Keane, whose internet site states that he has represented clients facing a broad range of criminal and civil enforcement investigations and cases, was also left to help Graham consider and determine the best option available to him to either diminish Heredia’s believability as a witness to the United States, or to simply allow the case to be called solely on the evidences provided by men whose actions were wrong and will cost other people medals and possible prize money.

Put another way, Keane gave Graham the opportunity to either attempt to discredit Heredia as a witness and prove that the evidences gathered and presented against Graham were either false or improper, or to allow the 12-person jury to decide Graham’s fate based on the sum of the whole of what cheaters and law-breaking individuals had said before them under oath.

Nevertheless, their course of action would be to create reasonable doubt to believe that the information which was shared with the court was of value considering the source(s) of that information.


[1] San Francisco Chronicle, “Steroids dealer recounts showing Graham ropes,” 2008-05-21
[2] New York Daily News, ”Sports I-Team Live Blog: USA vs. Trevor Graham (Day 4)”, 2008-05-22
[3] San Francisco Chronicle, ”Sprinters testify against coach in S.F. trial,” 2008-05-23

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