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Report: Sprinter Admits to Drugs

Montgomery told grand jury that Conte gave him banned substances, newspaper says. Leak of confidential testimony is investigated.

June 25, 2004|David Wharton and Alan Abrahamson | Times Staff Writers

Tim Montgomery, the world-record holder in the 100-meter dash, told a federal grand jury that he used banned steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs, and that he got them from a central figure in the BALCO doping scandal, according to a newspaper account published Thursday.

The sprinter testified that BALCO lab founder Victor Conte, who has been charged with distributing steroids, gave him weekly doses of human growth hormone as well as the designer steroid THG, code named "the clear," according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The newspaper quoted extensively from Montgomery's Nov. 6, 2003, appearance before the grand jury investigating the BALCO case.

Conte's attorney, Robert Holley, called the testimony "a fabrication" and said he would seek dismissal of the criminal charges. "My client has been slandered and it would be difficult if not impossible to get a fair trial," he said.

Montgomery testified that his former coach, Raleigh, N.C.-based Trevor Graham, supplied steroids to former champion shotputter C.J. Hunter and other athletes, the Chronicle reported. Hunter was formerly married to five-time Olympic medalist Marion Jones; she and Montgomery are now companions and parents of a baby boy. Jones has repeatedly denied using performance-enhancing substances.

Conte also told Montgomery that he had provided steroids to San Francisco Giant slugger Barry Bonds, according to the Chronicle's account of the sprinter's testimony. Bonds has regularly denied using performance-enhancing substances, and said before Thursday's game against the Dodgers: "I ain't never met Tim Montgomery."

The publication of grand jury testimony, normally held in confidence by lawyers, law clerks and legal aides connected to an ongoing criminal case, was the latest twist in the fast-paced doping scandal, which has cast a cloud over several Major League Baseball players as well as the selection of the U.S. Olympic track team for this summer's Athens Games.

The testimony was made public the day after Montgomery and three other top U.S. sprinters were notified by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that formal doping charges had been lodged and that each now faced the possibility of a lifetime ban from competition. The others are Chryste Gaines, Alvin Harrison and Michelle Collins. All four are Olympic medalists or world champions.

U.S. Atty. Kevin V. Ryan in San Francisco said his office "is looking into" how the Chronicle obtained Montgomery's testimony. Ryan said federal prosecutors "take seriously any potential violation of the grand jury confidentiality rules."

Montgomery's lawyer, Cristina Arguedas of Emeryville, Calif., did not address the specifics of the reported testimony. "No one can legally or legitimately have Tim's grand jury testimony, and if they think they have it, I would like to see it," she said. "Otherwise, there's no way I can respond to these blind allegations."

Graham's attorney, Joe Zeszotarski, of Raleigh, said Montgomery's allegations "are false and baseless," adding, "Trevor Graham has never distributed steroids or any illicit substance to anyone."

Zeszotarski also said that Graham "has done nothing wrong" and "is considered by the government to be a witness, not a target," in the BALCO case.

According to the Chronicle, Montgomery testified that Conte gave Bonds the steroid Winstrol, or stanozolol. That is the same substance that led to the disqualification of Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

Bonds, asked about the Chronicle report, said, "It's stupid. I didn't read the thing. I just heard about it."

Conte and three others, including Greg Anderson, Bonds' personal trainer, were indicted in February on 42 felony counts; the case centers on allegations that steroids were distributed to elite athletes.

On Sept. 3, amid a raid by federal agents of BALCO headquarters in Burlingame, Calif., Conte told investigators that Bonds, through Anderson, sought undetectable steroids during the 2003 season out of concern over baseball's new drug-testing program, according to the Chronicle.

During that season, an investigator's memo from that Sept. 3 raid indicates, Conte gave Bonds "the clear" and a testosterone cream, the Chronicle reported.

Holley has previously said that Conte's comments in connection with the Sept. 3 raid were either coerced or misconstrued.

In a telephone interview Thursday, Holley said: "Victor has reiterated to me and holds firm in his position -- he has never given any steroids to Barry Bonds, he has never seen Bonds take steroids of any kind, and he has never told anybody about giving steroids to Barry Bonds."

Montgomery set the 100-meter mark, 9.78 seconds, in Paris on Sept. 14, 2002. He testified that Conte gave him weekly doses of growth hormone and "the clear" over an eight-month period ending in the summer of 2001, the Chronicle said. Montgomery reportedly called "the clear" a "magic potion."

Montgomery trained with Graham for several years before their relationship ended in 2002. According to the Chronicle, Montgomery testified that he was initially offered steroids by Graham but turned the offer down. Graham had a connection in Texas who, in turn, had a connection in Mexico, he reportedly testified.

Hunter retired after failing four doping tests before the 2000 Sydney Games. He and Jones subsequently divorced. In 2002, Jones and Montgomery became a couple.

According to the Chronicle, Montgomery said that he warned Jones about Graham and that she told the coach, with whom she was also training at the time: "I want a list of everything you've been giving me. If you can't give me a list then I'm not going to take it anymore."

Prosecutors did not ask Montgomery whether Jones ever took banned substances, the Chronicle reported.

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Times staff writer Jason Reid, in San Francisco, contributed to this report.

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