Graham trial could expose previously untainted athletes (cont.)
Those allegations relate directly to the essence of this week's trial: the veracity of Graham's statements to federal investigators. Though Graham received immunity for truthful statements, including those potentially self-incriminating, the immunity does not cover knowingly false statements. During interviews Graham repeatedly denied any role in his clients using steroids, yet the government now claims that he not only provided his clients with steroids but that he also coordinated such dealings with Heredia. To bolster its case the government intends to call to the witness stand several former Graham clients, including Duane Ross, Garfield Ellenwood, Michelle Collins and Dennis Mitchell, all of whom are expected to say that Graham helped them obtain banned substances. Graham's former assistant coach, Randall Evans, who is expected to discuss a steroid-related meeting that he had with Graham and Heredia, may emerge as another key witness. In his defense Graham insists that Heredia is lying and that he had no involvement in his clients' decision to use steroids.
Aside from unraveling the facts outlined above, Graham's trial risks disparaging a number of people who are not parties to the litigation. Recently-retired gold medalist sprinter Maurice Green, for instance, will likely draw attention. Heredia claims that he sold performance-enhancing drugs to Greene, who steadfastly denies the charges. Should the allegation prove true -- and Heredia allegedly possess incriminating physical evidence in the form of lab reports and wire transfer receipts -- Green could see his reputation ruined and his medals stripped by the International Olympic Committee.
For their part, Graham's attorneys have threatened to name prominent athletes who allegedly worked with Heredia but about whom Heredia may not have told the government. The goal there would be to impugn Heredia's credibility and to imply that the government has unwisely relied on his testimony. The collateral damage of that strategy, however, would include the naming of current and retired athletes who are not presently implicated in the BALCO investigation and who may have no immediate way of defending themselves in court.
With the Olympics just seven weeks away, USA Track and Field would certainly hope to avoid a litigation warfare that threatens to further tarnish the image of U.S. track and field Olympians and those who train them. The networks that will televise Olympic track and field events, and the companies that will sponsor them, likewise have a stake in seeing this trial attract as little attention as possible.
Oddly enough, the only real winner in the Graham trial may be Bonds. Regardless of the outcome Bonds and his attorneys will be able to study the prosecutors' arguments for both substance and style, develop a better sense of Judge Illston's views on the admissibility of BALCO-related evidence and scrutinize any potential inconsistencies or flaws in temperament and testimony of several witnesses who might also testify in Bonds' trial.
Michael McCann is a law professor at Mississippi College School of Law and chair of the Association of American Law Schools' Section on Sports and the Law.