Track coach Trevor Graham received a lifetime ban from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency Tuesday for his role in helping his athletes obtain performance-enhancing drugs.
Graham has been banned from participating in any event sanctioned by the U.S. Olympic Committee, the IAAF, USA Track and Field or any other group that participates in the World Anti-Doping Agency program.
He was convicted in May of one count of lying to federal investigators about his relationship to an admitted steroids dealer. He’s still awaiting sentencing and has asked a judge to toss out his conviction.
Graham already was banned from all USOC-sponsored facilities and had essentially become a pariah in his sport, connected with too many athletes involved in doping — Marion Jones and former 100-meter world-record holders Justin Gatlin and Tim Montgomery to name a few.
“There has been a belief out there that coaches, doctors and other people who support athletes were somehow outside the long arm of the rules,” USADA CEO Travis Tygart said in a phone interview. “This is a strong reminder that they’re not, and that we’ll use our authority to hold coaches accountable if they assist and aid athletes in doping.”
It was Graham who anonymously provided a vial of “the clear,” a then undetectable steroid to USADA, blowing the whistle on what became known as the BALCO case.
At the 2004 Athens Olympics, Graham acknowledged mailing the drug, saying: “I was just a coach doing the right thing at the time.” He did not say why he turned in the syringe or how he got the material.
That act would seem to merit a break from anti-doping authorities.
“He certainly could have (gotten a break) but instead of being truthful with us and the feds he decided to lie about his involvement,” Tygart said.
USADA began its case against Graham in November 2006. He was found to have committed four violations of the WADA code:
- Tampering with or attempting to tamper with any part of doping control.
- Possession of prohibited substances and methods.
- Trafficking in any prohibited substance or prohibited method.
- Administration or attempted administration of a prohibited substance or prohibited method to any athlete or assisting, encouraging, aiding, abetting, covering up or any other type of complicity involving an anti-doping rules violation or any attempted violation.
The case against him included testimony from Michelle Collins and a number of other athletes. Collins recently was reinstated after serving three-plus years of a BALCO-related suspension. Her ban, set to expire in July, was reduced for cooperating with USADA and federal investigators.
Few of Graham’s former athletes are still in track and field. Montgomery, who was banned for life, was sentenced in May to nearly four years in prison for his role in a New York-based check-kiting conspiracy and pleaded guilty July 3 to distributing heroin. Gatlin is serving a four-year doping ban, and Jones is serving a six-month prison sentence for lying to investigators about a check-fraud scam and using steroids.
The most notable survivor is Shawn Crawford, the defending Olympic gold medalist in the 200 meters. Crawford will run the 200 in Beijing and now trains with Bob Kersee, who also coaches sprinter Allyson Felix.
Though Crawford wasn’t ever involved in the doping scandal, his name came up because Graham was a key player.
“Whatever he did with anybody else, I’m not worried about it,” Crawford said recently. “I know what I did. I can’t hold that against a person. People make mistakes.”
Graham was the second person from the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative scandal to be convicted at trial. Former elite cyclist Tammy Thomas was found guilty in April of lying to a federal grand jury when she denied taking steroids.
Eight others, including Jones and BALCO founder Victor Conte, have pleaded guilty to charges that stemmed from the September 2003 raid on BALCO headquarters in Burlingame, Calif.