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Former world champion cyclist Thomas indicted in steroids probe

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Former elite cyclist Tammy Thomas was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury on charges of hindering the government's steroid probe.

Thomas, 36, is accused of four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice for allegedly lying to a grand jury investigating a steroid ring that spanned across many sports.

Olympic officials banned Thomas from competition in August 2002 after the performance enhancing drug Norbolethone was detected in her urine samples, according to court documents.

At the time, the drug was an obscure steroid that had been used in a few human tests in the 1960s and was rediscovered by the rogue chemist Patrick Arnold to boost athletic performance.

Norbolethone had never been marketed for public use, which made it helpful to athletes seeking an undetectable edge. The substance, also known as Genabol, became popular among Olympic athletes during the 2000 Sydney Games.

Arnold, the Illinois chemist who supplied the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative with undetectable performance-enhancing drugs, is among five people who have pleaded guilty in the BALCO probe.

The indictment adds cycling, a sport often associated with doping, to a probe that has exposed steroid use in professional baseball, football and track and field.

Thomas, a Yazoo City, Miss. native, was a silver medalist in the individual sprint in the 2001 World Track Cycling Championships. Her efforts to gain a place on the 2000 U.S. Olympic team ended shortly before the games after her testosterone levels were found to be high.

She has always maintained her innocence and said the positive results may have been triggered by contraceptives she was using.

The indictment accuses Thomas of lying when she testified she never used performance-enhancing drugs. She also is said to have lied when she testified that she did not get illegal drugs from Arnold, who was convicted in the scandal earlier this year and is serving a three-month sentence in a Morgantown, W.Va. federal prison.

Last month, Trevor Graham, coach to track sensations Marion Jones, Justin Gatlin and Tim Montgomery, was indicted for allegedly obstructing the steroids probe. He has pleaded not guilty.

Authorities ordered Thomas to make an initial appearance Jan. 5 in federal court.
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