BALCO grand jury is likely targeting Trevor Graham

Originally Published: October 25, 2006
By Mike Fish | ESPN.com

In an ironic twist, high-profile track coach Trevor Graham, who triggered the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative steroids scandal when he anonymously sent a syringe to U.S. doping officials in 2003, is now himself caught in the crosshairs of the federal probe into sports doping.

ESPN.com has learned that Graham's right-hand man, Randall Evans, the top assistant with Graham's hugely successful Raleigh, N.C.-based Sprint Capitol USA track team, testified last week in San Francisco before the BALCO grand jury.

According to attorney Johnny Gaskins, who represents Evans, the Jamaican-born coach likely was the focus of his client's nearly two-hour appearance last Thursday before the second BALCO grand jury -- the same body impaneled to weigh possible evidence against San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds.

Graham's attorney confirmed Thursday that his client was discussed by Evans.

"Randall Evans agreed to speak with us about his appearance at the grand jury," Graham's attorney Joe Zeszotarski said. "Based upon our interview of him, it is clear that Mr. Evans did not testify 'against' Trevor."

Zeszotarski said Evans "told the grand jury that he knows nothing about Trevor being involved in the distribution of illicit substances."

There are other signs that investigators likely are focusing on Graham. Antonio Pettigrew, a former long-time member of Sprint Capitol, might also have appeared before the grand jury last week. Asked if he had appeared, the former Olympic gold medalist and 400-meter world champion told ESPN.com, "I can't make any comment on that. I can't say I did. I can't say I didn't. I can't say I talked to anyone."

Added Pettigrew, recently hired as an assistant coach at the University of North Carolina: "Of course, at the end of the day, I pray that Trevor will get off from this. I'm just moving forward with my life. So I'm not making any comments."

Graham didn't respond to telephone messages left for him Wednesday. His attorney, however, said he is unaware of anyone associated with Sprint Capitol having been called before the grand jury.

"I'm sure the government is doing what the government does," Zeszotarski said on Wednesday. "From my perspective, Trevor has been interviewed by the government. Trevor has told the truth, and that is where we stand. That is all that we can control. And the government, I am sure, is going to talk to whoever they deem it appropriate to talk to. And the government hasn't told us that Trevor is a target. The government has never told us that."

Graham has previously denied to federal investigators that he arranged for any of his athletes to receive performance-enhancing drugs, though he has not testified before the grand jury.

In a lengthy interview last August with ESPN.com, Graham -- accompanied at the time by Evans -- portrayed himself as a victim rather than a suspect, suggesting the suspicions circulating about him stemmed from a revenge motive linked to his role in the government's discovery of the designer steroid THG, which had been undetectable until he turned it over.

"I think everyone felt as if I brought disgrace to the sport by actually turning in the syringe," he said then. "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."

It hasn't been an easy fight.

Graham has been linked to at least a half-dozen athletes -- the most prominent being former 100-meter world record holder Tim Montgomery -- who have received drug-related suspensions. Several other suspected performance-enhancing drug users, including 2000 Olympics golden girl Marion Jones, have floated through his camp.

His troubles boiled over this summer when latest wunderkind sprinter Justin Gatlin, the 100-meter Olympic champion and co-world-record holder, tested positive for testosterone or other steroids. The sport's international governing body is contemplating possible disciplinary action against Graham. And in a move more symbolic than anything else, the U.S. Olympic Committee banned Graham from its training centers.

The New York Times has reported that Angel "Memo" Heredia, a one-time high school and college discus thrower from Laredo, Texas, testified before the grand jury that he supplied steroids and performance-enhancing drugs to Graham for his athletes. Graham has denied the claim; in early August, his attorney said the coach had passed a polygraph test related to Heredia's allegations.

In August, Graham told ESPN.com that his only contact with Heredia dated to 1998.

Evans, who turns 36 on Thursday, is a friend of Heredia dating to when they were teammates at San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, in the early 1990s. Heredia reportedly testified twice before BALCO grand juries, most recently last March, and told of supplying Graham from 1996 through 2000.

Heredia could not be reached for comment.

"I'm not going to discuss anything," Evans told ESPN.com. "My attorney can answer all the questions for me."

Gaskins acknowledged that Evans was questioned about Heredia, but the attorney offered little else.

"At one point, they were friends," he said. "I don't think they've seen each other in a good while."

The same might be true of the Trevor Graham-Randall Evans relationship. On the Sprint Capitol Web site, only Graham and Evans are profiled and pictured under the subhead of coaches/staff. But when asked Wednesday if Evans still works with Graham, Gaskins (Evans' attorney) responded, "I'd rather not say."

Mike Fish is an investigative reporter for ESPN.com. He can be reached at michaeljfish@gmail.com. Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.