Why You Shouldn't Believe Marion Jones: Vol. 30

“The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity.”

(André Gide, “hypocrisy”)

Story by Eric.

This is the 30th 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 introduces 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 spend 12 months in home-confinement for lying to U.S. Federal authorities concerning the BALCO affair.

Trevor Graham is – make that, “was” – a coach who has had several athletes under his watch test positive for performance-enhancing drugs, and is (was) a coach who has subsequently been barred from the United States Olympic Committee’s training centres due to the unusually high level of athlete cases ending in positive test results after due process has been followed.

He is (was) also a man who is (was) under indictment for lying to Federal investigators – a man whom Marion Jones ratted out to a Federal judge to lighten any sentence which could be imposed on her.

Graham established a Raleigh, North Carolina-based track team named Sprint Capitol in 1989 with his wife, Ann, his first charge (and later added Antonio Pettigrew), and had recruited Marion Jones to train for – and compete under – the Sprint Capitol guidance provided by Graham. Graham was once so hard up for athletes before landing Marion Jones that he had to work as a security guard to support his fledgling coaching career.

In a diffused statement to Federal investigators in the 2004 BALCO case, Trevor Graham denied that he set up any of his athletes with illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

However, his Federal testimony has turned around and been thrown back into Graham’s corner, with Marion Jones stating that Graham provided her “the clear” in September 2000 to be taken under her tongue, and stated Graham told her not to tell anyone what she was taken.

Graham was charged (Case number CR06-0725 PJH) with obstructing the BALCO investigation, having made false statements to Special Agents Novitzky and Erwin Rogers on 2004-June-8 during testimony he provided during that probe.

He made his first appearance before Magistrate Judge Edward Chen at Courtroom C, 15th Floor at the Federal Courthouse in San Francisco, CA, with a trial date in the case originally set for 2007-September-24 and subsequently changed to 2008-May-19 before Judge Susan Illston, who also presided over the BALCO case.

The charges allege that Graham intentionally lied to IRS-CI agents who were pursuing the original source of the illegal performance-enhancing drugs taken by many of the athletes tied to Balco,” U.S. Attorney Kevin V. Ryan stated in a press release to announce the indictments.[]

At a hearing 2007-August-21, more evidence – including Grand Jury testimony that the U.S. government held – was handed over to Graham’s defence team, and the trial was postponed to 2007-November-25, and ultimately pushed back to 2008-May-19.

According to The New York Times, Jeffrey Finigan, an assistant United States attorney, said more time was needed for the defence to “explore to what extent they can potentially resolve the case short of a trial.”

The case was not resolved prior to trial, and in fact, Graham did not want to settle on any potential plea deals offered to him.

The Federal indictment accused Graham of having obtained illegal performance-enhancing drugs from an unidentified source and providing them to his athletes. The indictment also stated that Graham referred his athletes to an unnamed source (Angel Heredia) so they could obtain performance-enhancing drugs directly.

Graham has strictly stated he has never provided performance-enhancing drugs to his athletes, and pleaded not guilty through his attorney, Gail Shifman, in Federal Court on 2006-November-16 to the three-charge indictment. Graham was freed on a $25.000 unsecure bond.

It's an unfortunate manipulation of the criminal justice system that an embattled U.S. attorney would turn on the person who brought the whole Balco investigation to the forefront,” Shifman said by phone from San Francisco. “Trevor Graham is looking forward to the trial in this case. When the full story comes out, he will be vindicated.[2]

Graham's lawyers, however, claimed on 2007-July-13 that United States Justice Department officials citing they had knowledge of the situation broke secrecy rules by alerting the media that Graham was to be indicted. They requested that a judge dismiss the charges because of what they considered prosecutorial and witness misconduct, and stated that by having an opportunity to unseal grand jury testimony – one would find a revelation of that misconduct.

The United States government declined to dismiss the case, however, with its prosecutors stating on 2007-July-27 that the leaks were directed at the media, not the grand jury.

The impact has been telling sign for his athletes, with Shawn Crawford deciding in November 2006 to leave the embattled coach, and return to training under his father.

All this stuff came up with Justin, Trevor…all the drugs stuff, that just helped boost my decision that I needed to go back to doing what me and my dad did.[3]

Me’Lisa Barber, who won the U.S. 100-meter title in 2005, was part of the gold medal 400-meter relay team at the 2005 World Championships and won the U.S. and world indoor 60-meter title in 2006, also left Graham following a USADA accusation letter which promptly followed the Federal indictment. Barber, who moved on to train with – and provide reciprocal coach to – her sister, Miki, had also apparently joined forces with Graham in the beginning to gain invaluable technical knowledge, become a student of the sport and think like a sprinter according.

Before [she began her training under Graham]," Miki said, “she didn't really care about her form, or lifting weights. But now she would come home and just die from their workouts. They were doing crazy amounts of weightlifting, and she'd be at the track for like six hours.

And I was like, 'What are you doing for that long? Why is it taking you so long to work out?' Then she'd come home and do a whole bunch of crunches. She'd be saying, 'Miki, you gotta put your fingers like this, and you gotta do that, and when you come back you're not dorsi-flexing, so you're doing that wrong.' So I was like, Okay Lise, you're really trying to do it here.'[4]

Remi Korchemny, who coached world-class athletes Chryste Gaines, Alvin Harrison, Dwain Chambers and Kelli White, was also sent a letter from USADA, and gave up his anti-doping violations fight against the USADA on 2007-March-12 effectively agreeing to be ineligible to participate in any sports organization using the World Anti-Doping Agency code – a move which he considered irrelevant at this point in his career.

I already suffered a lot,” Korchemny told The San Francisco Chronicle.

The punishment was very, very soft for me because the judge realized my role was minimal. I call myself a cherry in a cocktail glass -- not the drink, just the cherry.

The punishment is already over. I don't care. I am 75 years old. Why do I have to contest this and waste my energy? They can do what they want.[5]

Korchemny pleaded guilty in July 2005 to one misdemeanour count of dispensing the sleep-disorder drug modafinil, a misdemeanour. All four above named athletes were found guilty of drugs usage, two of them with a non-analytical positive based on testimony alone.

The Federal charges were levied two weeks after Graham's previous assistant, Randall Evans, testified in front of the current grand jury handling the BALCO case surrounding Barry Bonds, who, himself, was indicted on five felony charges weeks following Marion Jones’s conviction (which, incidentally, was later increased to a revised charge with 14 indictment counts on 2008-May-13). Evans is stated to have told the San Jose Mercury News in the mid-October 2006 outside the courthouse that Graham was his best friend, he was in Raleigh the whole time, and knew what happened.

The San Jose Mercury News further reports that Evans declined to say what he had stated to the Grand Jury, or what questions the prosecutors had asked him.

I had no choice. I wasn't going to take the rap. I told the grand jury the truth. I wasn't going to lie and then face perjury.[6]

Ryan, a Democrat who offered full and limited immunity from prosecution to more than 30 athletes from major league baseball, professional football and track and field who had used BALCO's drugs, and withheld their names from public court files, announced he was stepping down on 2007-January-16 in what critics alleged was political pressure from U.S. President Bush’s administration pushing him and others out of their jobs.[7] He went on private practice at the law firm Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory & Natsis LLP and was replaced by a former South Carolina federal prosecutor named Scott Schools.

Ryan was one of 11 highly visible federal prosecutors who had either resigned or had announced their resignations since an obscure provision in the USA Patriot Act reauthorization in 2006 enabled the U.S. attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, to appoint replacements without Senate confirmation. Carol Lam, who headed California's Southern District, also announced on 16-January that she would be leaving.

Under Ryan's watch, his office churned thousands of hours into the BALCO affair, yet had only had five convictions, raising serious questions about its worth. SF Weekly reported that Ryan has been portrayed him as “consumed” by the BALCO-inspired media craze, holding countless meetings with his prosecutors on the case.[8]

The case did not progress in the normal fashion. There were just so many offshoots of it that it required our attention to be focused away from the primary focus.[9]


[1] The New York Times, “Track Coach Indicted in BALCO Case”, 2006-11-02
[2]Washington Post, “Track Coach Pleads Not Guilty to Hindering BALCO Probe”, 2006-11-17
[3] Reuters, “Crawford leaves coach Graham”, 2006-11-08
[4] Black Athlete, “Miki Barber: Keepin’ It Movin”, 2007-06-28
[5] The San Francisco Chronicle, “Life ban doesn’t faze Korchemny”, 2007-03-13
[6] San Jose Mercury News, “Balco Grand Jury to Charge Graham”, 2006-11-01
[7] The Associated Press, “Federal Prosecutor in BALCO Probe Quits”, 2007-01-17
[8] SF Weekly, “Untouchable”, 2006-10-04
[9] Associated Press, “Ex-BALCO Prosecutor: Probe Winding Down”, 2007-06-11

0 kommentarer: