Why You Shouldn't Believe Marion Jones: Vol. 32

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Why You Shouldn't Believe Marion Jones: Vol. 32

Story by Eric.

This is the 32nd 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.

This is a continuation from part 31, the introduction of Graham into the Marion Jones equation. 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.


Notwithstanding any – and all – of Trevor Graham's denials of having received performance-enhancing drugs or other illegal products directly or indirectly, two of those individuals coached and mentored by Trevor Graham – Marion Jones and Gatlin, the most prominent ones to date – are a part of several from that camp who have tested positive, or are under extremely close scrutiny.

Those athletes are:

  • Michelle Collins: Banned for eight years – later reduced to four years (and reinstated by the IAAF on 2008-May-14) – by a panel of members of American Arbitration Association and the North American Court of Arbitration for Sport. However, Collins was found to have used EPO, THG and a testosterone cream based on evidence collected in the BALCO investigation and presented to CAS. She reluctantly conceded her guilt after a fierce word battle with USADA. Collins surrendered her first-place finish in the 200m at the 2003 USA Indoor Championships, and also her 100m victory at the 2003 USA Outdoor Championships.

  • Justin Gatlin: Proposed eight-year ban for second doping offence after testing positive for testosterone during Kansas Relays in April 2006. First offence (2001-June 16-17) was for a banned substance (an amphetamine) found in medication – a ban the IAAF reduced. Gatlin did, however, surrender his victories in the 100m, 200m and 110m hurdles at the USA Junior Championships where the positive test was discovered. Gatlin’s legal team working on “special circumstance” clause to prove Gatlin had drugs in his body without his knowledge.

  • Alvin Harrison: accepted a four-year ban for drug violations, admitting to USADA accusations of him having used testosterone, THG, HGH and erythropoietin (EPO) between 2001-June-1 and 2004-October-18. He surrendered all his competitive results for this period, but not before stating that his attorney would file a lawsuit against USATF which upheld cheater Jerome Young’s doping appeal until it was overturned by CAS in June 2004.

  • Calvin Harrison: Handed a two-year suspension by USADA for a second positive modafinil test, and was stripped of his 2nd-place finish in the 400m at the 2003 USA Track & Field Championships (2003-June-21). The first was a result of pseudo ephedrine usage as a junior athlete. Modafinil was used to decrease fatigue and enhance mental alertness and reaction times.

  • C.J. Hunter: Banned for two years in 2001 after his announced retirement in 2000. Failed four tests for nandrolone in the summer leading up to the Sydney Olympics.

  • Patrick Jarrett: Banned two years in 2001 after testing positive for Stanozolol at his national championships.

  • LaTasha Jenkins: Tested positive for metabolites of the anabolic steroid nandrolone. Faced a two-year ban. A three-person North American arbitration panel ruled against USADA on a technicality, exonerating Jenkins due to both European labs (Ghent, Belgium and Cologne, Germany) which conducted the sample tests violated international requirements that the tests be run by two different technicians. WADA filed an appeal on the case to CAS on 2008-February-19, which it later dropped in April 2008.

  • Marion Jones A/B: Accused of taking EPO based on an “A”-sample test conducted in June, 2006. “B”-sample findings exonerated Marion Jones based on the discrepancy between the “A”- and “B”-samples.

  • Marion Jones: Confessed of having taken drugs under Graham’s watch, with Graham having provided her drugs without her knowledge starting in September 2000.

  • Dennis Mitchell: Suspended two years by a three-member IAAF panel which had ruled that a test of Mitchell’s urine had proved he was taking banned steroids. A United States panel had cleared him of the same charge.

  • Tim Montgomery: Banned for two years without a positive test based on information released by the U.S. Senate to USADA, whereby he told the grand jury that Victor Conte gave him weekly doses of THG in 2001. He testified that he used the banned substance for eight months, part of the information of which was corroborated by information White provided in testimony during the BALCO investigation. Banned from 2005-June-6 to 2007-June-6 and was stripped of his world-record (9,88 seconds).

  • Jerome Young: Banned for lifetime after a positive test for EPO in 2004-July-23 at a meeting in Paris. The EPO incident is not known to be related to BALCO. Young had been exonerated by the USATF Appeals Panel allowing Young to compete in the Sydney Olympics after Young had a positive test for nandrolone (1999 USA Outdoor Championships) overturned by the results of a negative test six days later, and negative tests 14 days before the positive. CAS overturned the ruling and Young surrendered all results from 1999-June-26 to 2001-June-25.

Of those athletes and others not previously publicly ensnared in the BALCO files, the United States government called as potential witnesses the following:

  • Antonio Pettigrew: Pettigrew was to testify that he was a professional track and field athlete coached by Graham and that Graham had encouraged him to take illegal and banned performance-enhancing drugs and referred him to Heredia to obtain those drugs. Pettigrew is to have obtained and used illegal and banned performance-enhancing drugs from Heredia with Graham’s knowledge, and he continued to compete with Graham as his coach while using the illegal drugs.

  • Jerome Young: He is to have testified that he was a professional track and field athlete coached by Graham and that he obtained erythropoietin (EPO) from Graham. He is also to have stated that Graham told him he was getting the EPO from Heredia.

  • Duane Ross: He is to have testified that he was a professional track and field athlete coached by Graham. Graham is to have advised him to take testosterone and introduced him Heredia over the phone.

  • Garfield Ellenwood: He is to have testified that he was a professional track and field athlete coached by Graham and that Graham assisted him in obtaining an illegal and banned performance-enhancing drug from Heredia.

  • Michelle Collins: She was to have testified that she was a professional track and field athlete coached by Graham and that she obtained EPO from him. She was to also have witnessed that Graham was knowledgeable about EPO, and that he possessed EPO at his home. Judge Illston had determined that Collins didn’t have more than peripheral information to share about Graham in the case.

  • Calvin Harrison: He was to have testified that he was a professional track and field athlete coached by Graham and that Graham both provided him directly with an illegal and banned performance-enhancing drug, i.e. human growth hormone (HGH), and assisted him in obtaining various illegal and banned performance-enhancing drugs, including EPO and HGH, from a third party. He was to have also testified that he heard Graham offer to obtain “growth” for another professional track athlete. He is to have also testified that Graham was very knowledgeable about the drugs. Like Collins, Illston determined that Harrison had only marginal information relative to the charges against Graham.

  • Dennis Mitchell: He is to have testified that he was a professional track and field athlete coached by Graham and that Graham placed him in contact with Heredia, who Mitchell already knew. He is to have testified that he thereafter received what was represented to him to be illegal and banned performance-enhancing drugs from Heredia. He is also to have testified that Graham was very knowledgeable about illegal and banned performance-enhancing drugs, that Graham told him he could obtain such drugs for him, and that Graham assisted him taking what was represented to him by the Graham to be HGH by injecting this substance into Mitchell’s body for him.

  • Randall Evans: He is to have testified that he was a professional track and field athlete coached by Graham and that he travelled to Texas with Graham and met Heredia in person. Heredia states that Evans accompanied Graham on a 20-hour car ride to Mexico to meet Heredia.

Performance-enhancing drugs wars – and rumours of those wars – have also been brought up by others connected to Marion Jones and Sprint Capitol – people not named Victor Conte.

According to Graham’s trial attorney, those athletes who were to testify were Graham as a “convenient scapegoat for their past mistakes and their past drug use.”[1]

However, as with any other witness or credible source brought up in this piece, opposition attempted to discredit these witnesses due to falling-outs with Trevor Graham, hence insinuating these people bore with them false witness of the accounts and testimonies by which they have spoken to USA authorities.

Graham’s own son, T.J. Graham, believed his father is the victim of a conspiracy and was being held responsible for the actions of his athletes.

“A lot of those guys, they knew why they were here, but they knew they weren't great athletes,” T.J. Graham says. “They didn't want to work as hard as he was pushing them, so they went outside to get what they needed and it was kind of dumb. All they needed to do was work hard.”[2]

John Burks is a former Graham associate and the team-mate who brought Graham from Farmingdale State University of New York to St. Augustine’s College – where Graham received a walk-on scholarship, and graduated in 1989. Burks graduated a year later, in 1990.

Burks, with no apparent vendetta against either Sprint Capitol or its management – however one who discontinued coaching on financial grounds, has sworn in testimony – under oath – that Sprint Capitol athletes have been openly shielded from drug testing authorities who’ve penetrated the fortress doors by appearing for unannounced testing.

Burks held interviews with The New York Times, stating that he did not have first-hand knowledge of steroid use, but that he knew Heredia and Graham well, and that he believed there was illegal drug use at Sprint Capitol USA. Burks has testified before the Grand Jury on one occasion.

Burks has known Graham since they ran on the track team together at St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, N.C., and lived together there. Burks was an assistant coach at Sprint Capitol from 1999 to early 2001. Burks also split with Graham over a financial dispute concerning prize earnings owed to him from an elite athlete’s winnings purse.
Burks’ version of his Grand Jury testimony is that he told the Grand Jury that Graham had instructed him to prevent unannounced drug testing at the training track.

“He was away from town with other athletes, and he said don’t let anybody test anybody,” Mr. Burks said.

He recalled athletes dodging the tests when alerted.

“At Sprint Capitol, drug testers would show up, and athletes would run and jump fences and hide,” Mr. Burks said in an interview.[3]

Support for – and defence of – Trevor Graham appears non-existent outside of his immediate staff and family members. Coaches had begun commenting on Graham’s exploits long before meet organisers for the final IAAF Golden League meeting, ISTAF in Berlin, declared a ban on any – and all – Trevor Graham-coached athletes.

“Any coach who has had athletes banned needs to be banned, too,” she [Pat Connolly] says. “Coaches need to take responsibility. They'll say they can't know if their athlete is using drugs. I don't care how dumb they want to play. They know.”[4]

Fish, closely monitoring the Graham movement (or lack thereof), sums up Graham’s fight perfectly in a summer news piece:

If you believe him now, he's a martyr paying the price for doing his part to clean up the sport.

“I think there's a lot of people right now that's sort of pissed off at me, and that includes USA Track and Field,” Graham says. “I think USADA, the IAAF [track's international governing body]. I think the managers and some of the coaches are absolutely just plain pissed off. I think everyone felt as if I brought a disgrace to the sport by actually turning in the syringe. I think they're all pissed off. So I am at the point right now that I'm constantly fighting to prove that my athletes are clean. You just constantly got to fight, man.”

It's a fight he appears to be losing.[5]


Sources:

[1] San Francisco Chronicle, “Jones, Montgomery led officials to former coach Graham”, 2008-05-19
[2] The News & Observer, “Running from dad’s shadow”, 2007-05-19
[3] The New York Times, “Instigator of Steroids Inquiry May Be a Target”, 2006-07-20
[4] USA Today, “Graham can't outrun questions” 2005-08-07
[5] ESPN.com, “In the middle of a tempest, Trevor Graham stays calm”, 2006-08-09

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