Graham receives allegation letter from USADA

Wednesday, November 8th 2006, 9:59 am
By: News On 6

Track coach Trevor Graham received notice from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that he is accused of violating doping rules, sources familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Graham, whose star athletes included Marion Jones, Tim Montgomery and Justin Gatlin, was indicted by a grand jury last week on three counts of making false statements to federal agents. Now, he has 10 days to respond to USADA's allegation letter. The case then will be presented to a review panel that recommends whether sanctions should be levied.

The sources, who spoke to AP on condition they not be identified because the charges have not been announced, said the letter informed Graham that he is being accused on a ``non-analytical'' basis, meaning the doping violation isn't predicated on positive drug tests, but rather on other evidence.

Also receiving an allegation letter, sources said, was track coach Remi Korchemny, who pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of doling out the sleep-disorder drug modafinil in the BALCO steroids scandal.

USADA general counsel Travis Tygart said he could not comment on ongoing cases.

The accusations mark the first time a coach has been targeted for punishment by USADA.

Athletes guilty of first-time doping offenses often are given two-year suspensions. Any penalty recommended by the review panel would be subject to arbitration.

Evidence in USADA's case against Graham includes testimony from athletes, as well as information that became public last week when federal authorities released details of his indictment, the sources said. USADA long has been pursuing Graham, and the timing of the letter came after the indictments, so as not to hinder the federal investigation.

Graham always has denied providing banned substances to his athletes. His Raleigh, N.C.-based attorney Joseph Zeszotarski did not return phone calls or an e-mail.

The Jamaican-born Graham operates Raleigh-based Sprint Capitol USA, a team of about 10 athletes that includes Gatlin, the 100-meter co-world record holder who tested positive for testosterone and other steroids in April. He was the latest of a handful of athletes coached by Graham who have tested positive for banned substances.

Graham also coached Jones at the Sydney Games in 2000, when she became the first woman to win five medals in a single Olympics.

Gatlin's positive test led the U.S. Olympic Committee to ban Graham from its training sites, and Nike terminated its contract with the coach.

In the federal indictment, prosecutors said Graham lied to investigators in 2004 about his ties to the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative at the center of the steroids scandal.

He is scheduled for arraignment Nov. 16 in U.S. District Court and faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $750,000 fine if convicted.

Three years ago, Graham mailed a syringe containing ``the clear,'' a previously undetectable steroid, to USADA. At the 2004 Athens Olympics, Graham acknowledged mailing the drug, saying: ``I was just a coach doing the right thing at the time.'' He did not say why he turned in the syringe or how he got the material.

Korchemny, who did not return phone calls Tuesday, coached sprinters Kelli White and Dwain Chambers, both of whom tested positive for banned substances and subsequently were suspended. White, who has retired from the sport, cooperated with investigators and has become an outspoken anti-doping advocate.