Last week by men's 100-meter world-record holder Tim Montgomery and three other sprinters—Chryste Gaines, Michelle Collins and Alvin Harrison—letters from the United States Anti-Doping Agency saying that they face lifetime bans for using illegal drugs. Then on Thursday the San Francisco Chronicle ran a story including what it said was testimony Montgomery gave a grand jury investigating the BALCO steroid scandal in which he admitted taking human growth hormone and a steroid called "the clear," which had been undetectable. Montgomery, the boyfriend of sprinter Marion Jones, reportedly testified last fall that BALCO president Victor Conte first mentioned "the clear" at the 2000 Olympics. Montgomery quoted Conte saying, "Watch the 100 meters. Watch what Chryste gonna do. Watch what Alvin going to do in the 400. And watch what Marion going to do.... You will see how powerful it is."
Montgomery's purported testimony, which contradicts his public denials, also reportedly implicated his former coach Trevor Graham. Despite Graham's denials that he ever gave steroids to athletes, Montgomery's allegation and Graham's past work with Collins and Harrison could cast suspicion over Olympic hopeful Shawn Crawford, 26, a sprinter whose times have improved since he started working with Graham earlier this year. ( Crawford ran the year's fastest 100 meters, at last month's Prefontaine Classic.) The Chronicle reported that Montgomery also alleged to the grand jury that Conte bragged he had given Winstrol, the steroid Ben Johnson was caught using at the 1988 Olympics, to Giants slugger Barry Bonds. ( Conte denies giving Bonds steroids.) Last week Bonds responded: "If any of the statements are true, they're going to talk to my attorney, I guarantee you that. There's going to be a lawsuit. See you in court, brother."
The four runners whom the USADA sent letters to last week have denied taking steroids, and all are expected to contest the bans in arbitration. Lawyers for the athletes are seeking a larger pool of arbitrators than USADA rules permit. That means the legal wrangling will carry on well past the U.S. Olympic Trials, which start July 9, in Sacramento, and the sprinters who face a lifetime ban could qualify for the U.S. team.