Track coach sentenced for steroid lying


Graham once coached Marion Jones, Tim Montgomery and Justin Gatlin. All were later banned for taking performance-enhancing drugs. Jones was released from prison Sept. 5 after completing most of her six-month sentence for lying about her steroid use.

It's the second time this month that U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston turned down federal prosecutors' calls for prison time for a sports figure caught lying about their involvement with performance-enhancing drugs. Former elite cyclist Tammy Thomas was sentenced to six months of home confinement for lying to a grand jury about her performance-enhancing drug use.

Major League Baseball home run king Barry Bonds has pleaded not guilty to similar charges and faces trial in March.

Prosecutors had urged the judge to sentence Graham to 10 months in prison for lying to agents about his extensive connection to an admitted steroids dealer. They argued that Graham lied even though he was promised protection from drug prosecution if he told the truth.

Prosecutors also argued that Graham encouraged many of his athletes to dope and has never expressed remorse.

Graham thanked his attorneys and said little else when Illston gave him an opportunity to make a statement before she handed down the sentence, which also included a $5,000 fine.

In May, a jury convicted Graham of one felony count of making false statements after a parade of his former athletes testified that the track coach had set them up with steroids he obtained from a Laredo, Texas trainer. Olympic gold-medal winner Antonio Pettigrew publicly admitted for the first time during Graham's trial that he used banned drugs.

"It was heartbreaking. ... That was a terrible moment in this courtroom," the judge said. "The evidence was compelling that he provided his athletes with steroids."

But Illston noted that Graham has lost his livelihood and has been banned for life from coaching competitive track.

"That he no longer can do this is an enormous punishment," Illston said.

Graham has always denied providing performance-enhancing drugs to any of his athletes.

When Thomas was sentenced, the judge said it would be unfair to send her to prison given the sentences of the "other miscreants" in the BALCO case.

Graham now drives a school bus in Raleigh, N.C., and will be allowed to work and attend church and medical appointments while confined to his house.

Illston said another reason she wouldn't sentence Graham to prison is because he anonymously provided a vial of "the clear," a then-undetectable steroid, to anti-doping authorities, thus blowing the whistle on what became known as the BALCO case.

The judge called his actions a "positive step."

The two latest BALCO cases are similar to the charges Bonds is facing. He's scheduled to stand trial in March after pleading not guilty to 14 counts of making false declarations to a federal grand jury and one count of obstruction of justice.

Graham, 45, a 1988 Olympic silver medalist on Jamaica's 400-meter relay, is the latest person to be convicted in connection with the BALCO investigation.

Eight others, including the sprinter Jones and BALCO founder Victor Conte, have pleaded guilty to various charges of perjury, drug and money laundering charges. Conte served four months.

Bonds' personal trainer Greg Anderson was sentenced to three months for helping to distribute steroids obtained from BALCO.

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