If there’s one name that should have sent any sane sprinter barreling in the other direction in the past decade, it’s Trevor Graham. Here is a guy who, in a septic and darkly impressive feat, has managed to be linked to virtually every doping scandal involving American track and field athletes since at least the 2000 Sydney Olympics. The North-Carolina based Graham was Marion Jones’s coach toward the end of her career, and it was Graham who anonymously provided the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency with a syringe containing traces of “The Clear,” a preparation containing the synthetic anabolic steroid THG, or tetrahydrogestrinone.
Graham, a member of the Jamaican 4 x 100m team that took silver at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, is scheduled to go on trial on May 19 for lying to the feds about his role in providing athletes with banned substances directly and referring those he did not supply himself to a Texas-based source. Although various high-profile athletes who have trained under or alongside Graham have already tested positive for or admitted to using illegal performance enhancers — among them Jones, Tim Montgomery, Dennis Mitchell, Alvin Harrison, Justin Gatlin, C.J. Hunter, Jerome Young, Michelle Collins, and Bozo the Clown (okay, just checking) — the list is about to get a lot longer.
In fact, this has already begun. A witness for the government has identified fan favorite and four-time world champion Antonio Pettigrew, who helped the U.S. to a gold medal in the 4 x 400m relay in Sydney, as a doper. And the Mexican man to whom Graham allegedly referred some athletes for juicing purposes, Angel Heredia, has stated that one of the dozen-plus top-level athletes he supplied with drugs was four-time Olympic Medalist Maurice Greene, the self-proclaimed “Greatest Of All Time,” or G.O.A.T.
Few harbor illusions these days about whether their favorite sprinters are clean. With every aspiring champion convinced that everyone else at or just about his or her level is on something, the impetus to cheat by merely blending in with the herd is overwhelming. It’s unfortunate, and the upcoming round of trials, as bitter a taste as they may leave in the mouths of U.S. track fans, are bound to do little to stem cheating in the future. Gaining an edge through pharmacology is as inextricably integrated into world-class track as are starting blocks and finish lines.