Cyclist, coach to be tried in BALCO probe

Two sports figures accused oflying in a steroids probe were given trial dates for next spring at a hearing in federal court in San Francisco today.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston scheduled a jury trial for March 24 for former championship cyclist Tammy Thomas.

Thomas, 37, is accused of lying when she allegedly told a federal grand jury in San Francisco on Oct. 30, 2003, that she never received performance-enhancing drugs from chemist Patrick Arnold and that she never took anabolic steroids.

She faces three counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice.

<p>Thomas, now a law student in Oklahoma, and her lawyer, Ethan Balogh, declined to comment outside of court after the brief hearing.

Thomas won a silver medal in the World Track Cycling Championship in Belgium in 2001. She was banned from competition for life in 2002 by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency after she tested positive for an anabolic steroid called norbolethone.

Illston scheduled a separate trial on May 19 for Olympic track coach Trevor Graham, who is accused of three counts of making false statements to federal investigators in an interview in North Carolina on June 8, 2004.

The statements include alleged testimony that he never provided his athletes with performance-enhancing drugs from an unidentified person known as Source A and that he never met Source A in person.

Both cases stem from an investigation centered on the Burlingame-based Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO.

Graham helped to trigger the probe when he anonymously sent a syringe filled with THG, a previously undetectable steroid, to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in June 2003. The agency is an independent group that tests Olympic athletes and other sports competitors for drugs.

Illston has presided over nine other cases in the BALCO probe, including most recently the perjury prosecution of Major League Baseball homerun champion Barry Bonds.

The former San Francisco Giants star was indicted Nov. 15 on four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice for allegedly telling the grand jury on Dec. 4, 2003, that he never knowingly received steroids or human growth hormone from his trainer, Greg Anderson.

He pleaded not guilty Nov. 7 and has not yet received a trial date.

In the six other BALCO cases in Illston's court, defendants including Arnold, Anderson and BALCO President Victor Conte pleaded guilty to charges related to steroids distribution.

Five have been sentenced to penalties ranging from probation to eight months of detention.

The sixth defendant, former New York Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski, whose plea agreement included a pledge to cooperate with prosecutors in the ongoing investigation, has not yet been sentenced.

Radomski pleaded guilty before Illston in April to two counts of money laundering and distributing anabolic steroids to unnamed “dozens” of Major League Baseball players.

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