Attorney of disgraced cyclist accuses BALCO investigators of setting 'trap'
SAN FRANCISCO -- An attorney for disgraced former Olympic bicyclist Tammy Thomas told a judge Friday perjury charges against his client should be dismissed because her allegedly false testimony to a federal grand jury didn't affect the panel's wide-ranging probe of steroids in sports.
A federal grand jury last year charged Thomas with perjury for testifying she never took illegal steroids. Thomas was barred for life in 2002 after testing positive for norbolethone, an obscure and previously undetectable steroid.
Thomas' attorney, Ethan Balogh, said federal prosecutors had little use other than to "trap" Thomas for perjury by calling her before the same grand jury investigating drug use by superstars like home run king Barry Bonds and slugger Jason Giambi centered at the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO.
"This wasn't a legitimate investigation into anything, they wanted to play 'gotcha,' " Balogh argued in a San Francisco federal court. "If we changed her no answers to yes, it doesn't matter. It was to embarrass, to shame and to beat up on a little person."
U.S. District Judge Susan Illston wondered if Thomas' testimony could be compared to a woman lying about her age or whether her allegedly false denials of steroid use were more substantive. The judge said she was inclined to keep the charges intact, but would formally rule later.
"This was a legitimate investigation at BALCO," said federal prosecutor Matthew Parella, who said that investigators retested a frozen urine sample of Thomas that showed norbolethone use.
"She lied on the very first question," Parella said. "Then when given the opportunity to change or clarify her testimony didn't do it."
Baseball free agent Bonds is being investigated in a similar perjury case. Bonds has denied ever knowingly taking performance-enhancing drugs. In testimony before a grand jury in 2003, he said he believed a clear substance and a cream given to him by his trainer were flaxseed oil and an arthritis balm.
The Bonds perjury probe began in July 2006 and the investigating grand jury last met on Thursday.
Last month, former track star Marion Jones admitted she had taken steroids after years of denials. Jones pleaded guilty to two counts of lying to federal investigators about her drug use and financial transactions.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
• Players' union files grievance on Guillen's behalf
• Mitchell Report due next week
• Guillen, Gibbons suspended 15 days
• Chart: Players who have violated MLB policy
• Sources: HGH suspension in works for Guillen
• Angels owner: Mitchell report will include names
• HBO to turn Bonds steroids book into movie
• BALCO figures fear leaks
• Personal trainer pleads guilty to distribution
• Union: 11 free agents sought in Mitchell talks
• China promises to bust doping industry
• Radomski's sentencing delayed until December
• Matthews Jr. discusses HGH allegations with MLB
• Report: Guillen, Williams bought steroids
• Top lawyer defends MLB testing procedures
• Report: Teams get advance notice of drug tests
• Indians' Byrd admits to using HGH
• NY raid nets $7.2 million in growth hormone
• Union: Mitchell didn't offer to share evidence
• Report: Mitchell gets papers from ex-Mets aide
• Sources: Mitchell's report to reveal many names
• MLB may suspend players who got banned drugs
• Source: Schoeneweis received steroids shipments
• DEA pulls off series of steroid raids
• ESPN The Magazine: China's open drug supply
• Ankiel meets with MLB officials on HGH report
• Report: MLB eyes use of HGH blood test in '08
• Gibbons meets with MLB officials
• Albany sits down with Mitchell Commission reps
• MLB considers adding fertility drugs to banned list
• MLB wants D.A.'s cooperation in pharmacy probe
• MLB requests meeting with Gibbons
• Report: Orioles' Gibbons received steroids, HGH
• Report: Pharmacy shipped steroids to Glaus
• Report: Ankiel linked to HGH | Gammons
• Olney blog: 1998 all over again?
• Harrison cooperated with prosecutors
• Harrison suspended for four games by NFL
• Report: Ex-MLB clubhouse man names names
• Fla. man pleads guilty to steroid sales conspiracy
• Judge denies request to release names in Grimsley case
• Report: Feds provided players names to Mitchell
• Feds: Mitchell got incomplete affidavit
• Ex-BALCO prosecutor says probe could end soon
• Sports leaders, feds discuss fight against steroids
• O's quiet as steroids speculation spins
• Mitchell seeks medical records
• Former doc guilty in prescription scam
From The Archives• The Dope On Steroids
• Mets did little to discourage steroid use
• E-Ticket: Who knew?
Analysis• Howard Bryant: Steroids, HGH and the pennant races
• Buster Olney: Blood test request on horizon
• Jayson Stark: Applying double standards
• Buster Olney: 1998 all over again?
• Rob Neyer: No big deal
• Ankiel timeline
• Peter Gammons: Stuff of legend