SAN FRANCISCO -- Track coach Trevor Graham, who helped launch a three-year federal probe of steroid use by elite athletes, is expected to be charged here as soon as Thursday with obstructing the investigation, two Justice Department officials with knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press.
Speaking on condition of anonymity because the charges had not been made public, the officials said Graham would be charged with making false statements to authorities investigating steroid use in sports.
Graham operates Raleigh-based Sprint Capitol USA, a team of about 10 athletes that includes 100-meter co-world record holder Justin Gatlin, who tested positive for testosterone and other steroids in April.
He also coached sprinter Marion Jones, who won five medals at the 2000 Sydney Games with him, and her former boyfriend Tim Montgomery, who was suspended from competition for two years, although he never tested positive for a banned substance.
Several of Graham's athletes, however, have tested positive for banned substances, and the coach is being investigated for lying to investigators looking into doping among elite athletes connected to the infamous Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, the now-defunct Burlingame supplement company that served as a front for a steroids ring.
In August, Nike terminated its contract with the coach and the U.S. Olympic Committee banned Graham from its training centers. He's the first coach to receive such a penalty "based on the unusual number of athletes he has coached who have been convicted of doping offenses," USOC chairman Peter Ueberroth said in a conference call at the time.
Graham helped launch the federal investigation three years ago by anonymously mailing a vial containing "the clear," a previously undetectable steroid to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. At the 2004 Athens Olympics, Graham acknowledged mailing the drug.
Neither Graham nor his Raleigh, N.C.-based attorney Joseph Zeszotarski returned telephone calls and e-mail inquiries from the AP.
Graham has steadfastly denied ever providing banned performance-enhancing drugs to his athletes.
Last Thursday, Zeszotarski confirmed Randall Evans, the top assistant to Graham, testified to the federal grand jury investigating BALCO and its distribution of performance-enhancing drugs.
Evans is the top assistant to Graham at Sprint Capitol USA, the Raleigh, N.C.,-based organization that has produced some of the world's top sprinters, including Gatlin. The Olympic champion has said he plans to appeal the eight-year ban from track he received in August after acknowledging he tested positive for doping.
But Evans did not provide any incriminating testimony against Graham, the attorney said in a recent statement given to AP.
"Randall Evans agreed to speak with us about his appearance at the grand jury," Zeszotarski said. "Based upon our interview of him, it is clear that Mr. Evans did not testify 'against' Trevor."
Zeszotarski said Evans "told the grand jury that he knows nothing about Trevor being involved in the distribution of illicit substances."
One person familiar with the investigation told the AP that Graham would not be indicted on distribution charges. Instead, the track coach is expected to be charged with obstruction of justice in connection with statements he gave to investigators in 2004.
The grand jury that is expected to indict Graham is the same panel investigating baseball slugger Barry Bonds for tax evasion and perjury related to his testimony about not knowingly using performance enhancing drugs. Bonds testified that his personal trainer told him he was ingesting flax seed oil and arthritis balm when he was really being given steroids dubbed "the clear" and "the cream."
Five men connected to BALCO pleaded guilty to steroid distribution and other charges.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press