Syringe allowed chemists to unmask THG

Updated: August 23, 2004, 4:24 PM ET
Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- A mystery at the center of track and field's biggest doping scandal has finally been solved.

Top track coach Trevor Graham has admitted he was the coach who anonymously sent a syringe of THG to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, a key piece of evidence in the BALCO case that helped lead to suspensions and possible lifetime bans against several athletes.

"I was just a coach doing the right thing at the time," Graham said after one of his star pupils, Justin Gatlin, won the 100-meter gold medal Sunday night. "I have no regrets."

Graham did not say why he turned in the syringe, which allowed chemists to unmask the previously undetectable steroid, or how he got the material.

Several of Graham's athletes have tested positive for steroids and other banned substances, but he has denied dispensing any drugs. He has been questioned by federal authorities in the BALCO case, but has not been named as a target.

Graham is the former coach of Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery. Jones is under investigation by USADA and Montgomery is charged with steroid use and faces a lifetime ban if found guilty. Graham also has coached Alvin Harrison and Michelle Collins, who face life suspensions if found guilty of steroid use.

Federal officials say the THG came from the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, which was being probed for possible tax violations when Graham turned in his syringe. Once authorities made the connection, the BALCO investigation quickly gathered speed.

It has led to criminal charges against four men, including BALCO founder Victor Conte, track coach Remy Korchemny and the personal trainer of baseball star Barry Bonds. All four men have pleaded innocent and await trial.

Five top track and field athletes -- four Americans and British sprinter Dwain Chambers -- have tested positive for THG and been suspended for a minimum of two years each. Former world champion sprinter Kelli White was suspended after admitting use of THG and other banned drugs.

Also, based on evidence gathered by the BALCO grand jury, Montgomery, Collins, Harrison and Chryste Gaines have been charged with steroid use and could be banned from the sport. All have denied using drugs.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press