Friday, May 23, 2008

Prosecution Rests in Graham Trial

The prosecution has rested their case against the track coach Trevor Graham on Thursday after five athletes testified against him. The evidence does not bode well for the sport of track and field nor for Mr. Graham.

On Wednesday, Angel Guillermo Heredia, testified that the sprinter Antonio Pettigrew obtained PED's over a four year period during which time he competed on a gold medal team and a record-setting 4x400 meter relay team. Heredia provided FedEx labels addressed to Graham and Pettigrew as well as Western Union wire transfers from Pettigrew. During his testimony, Heredia said that he was asked if "Marion Jones could inject three drugs at once because she 'was afraid of needles.'"

During cross-examination, Graham's lead attorney, William P. Keane, tripped up Heredia when Keane questioned him regarding specifics of some of the FedEx labels addressed to Graham. One label appeared to be in handwriting other than Heredia; he claimed it was his. Two other labels were questioned because they were signed for by people other than Graham; Heredia speculated that FedEx clerks signed the labels.

After Heredia, Duane Ross, a former professional sprinter and hurdler, testified that Graham suggested he use testosterone and led him to Heredia in 1998 & 1999. "He said that was his guy, and he was cool," Ross said, adding that he turned into an "outcast" in Graham's camp for his refusal to use PED's.

Prosecutors then played tapes that were previously mentioned in an earlier post.

TG, Wednesday was another bad day. Heredia played his audio tapes, provided Western Union receipts, FedEx shipping labels and his testimony was later corroborated by other witnesses. Duane Ross told the jury that you said Heredia was "cool" and that Ross became an "outcast" because he didn't take the spike...not good.

Thursday's developments had Antonio Pettigrew take the stand and corroborate what Heredia testified. He acknowledged he used PED's from 1997 to 2001. Pettigrew said, "I'm in it now, and I have to face the consequences." Pettigrew has never tested positive for PED's, but said he used HGH to become stronger and used EPO to improve endurance at Graham's suggestion.

His admission has triggered an antidoping case that could cost him and his teammates the gold medals from the 2000 Olympics and the 2001 world championship. Jim Scherr, chief executive of the United States Olympic Committee said that if an athlete knowingly and purposefully cheated, the medals won by the team are tarnished and should be returned.

Stephen A. Starks, legal affairs director for the United States Anti-Doping Agency took notes during his testimony. Later in the day, the agency commented that they would pursue all potential doping violations based on the evidence and will continue to work with the federal investigators. Pettigrew's admission would fall under "non analytical positive" and constitute a violation similar to what happened to Marion Jones.

Pettigrew is an assistant track coach at the University of North Carolina, a former officer of USA Track & Field's Athletes Advisory Committee and a former athlete representative to the USOC. Obviously, Pettigrew should resign immediately, but will probably force UNC to terminate him. I'm sure the USA Track & Field's Athletes Advisory Committee was not looking for Pettigrew's expertise to avoid doping detection.

The sport of track and field takes a big hit when Pettigrew's Olympic relay team is examined. His Olympic relay teammates consisted of Michael Johnson, Angelo Taylor, Jerome Young and the twins Alvin and Calvin Harrison. The Harrisons have been banned for doping that occurred not in the Olympic year. Young previously lost his gold medal as an alternate in that race and was banned for life for two doping offenses. Young's teammates were allowed to keep their medals because the Court of Arbitration for Sport found that Young did not dope during the Olympics and did not run in the final.

Of the six members of that 2000 relay team, four have been found to have used PED's. 66% of the relay team was hopped up on roids at one time during their careers. Should the public believe that the other two members of the team, Michael Johnson and Angelo Taylor: never used PED's during their careers, were unaware of their teammates doping or that they knew about the doping, but took the high road and never were tempted to dope?

Another member of the relay team testified on Thursday, Jerome Young. He admitted to doping from 1999 to 2003 and that Graham provided PED's and showed how to inject them.

Prosecution rested its case and the defense advised that they may call only one witness when the trial resumes on Tuesday.

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