Former US cycling medalist Tammy Thomas's perjury trial begins soon in San Francisco. The cyclist will face charges of lying about steroid use when she testified for the BALCO investigation. Observers expect the Govt's perjury strategy will emerge, perhaps presaging the Bonds perjury trial, also BALCO related. As you will read, the case could get hairy. Story in the LA Times.
Thomas' case is the first related to the BALCO doping investigation to be brought before a jury...
"The government is going to be required to lay its cards on the table, face-up," says Edward G. Williams, a New York attorney who has represented athletes in BALCO-related cases in the past.
Burlingame's Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO, plied its athlete-clients with performance-enhancing substances for years before it came under investigation in 2003. The firm's founder, Victor Conte, later pleaded guilty to federal charges related to its operation.
He is among 11 people who have been charged in connection with BALCO's activities, which included dosing athletes with steroids that were undetectable by tests then in use.
BALCO superstar investigator Jeff Novitzky will debut as a participant in the courtroom.
It isn't clear how much new hard information about the BALCO investigation will come out during Thomas' trial; a great deal already has been aired in court proceedings or published in newspaper or book form. Instead, interest probably will focus on a key government witness: Jeff Novitzky, an IRS agent who spearheaded the BALCO probe.
Although Novitzky has been intimately involved in subsequent investigations, he has never testified or been cross-examined in public. Consequently, lawyers who may have to face him in court are eager to take his measure.
"They can evaluate his demeanor, the strength of his testimony on direct, how he stands up on cross-examination," Williams said. "Is he confident? Is he believable?"
Thomas's attorney says the the Govt attempted to intimidate his client by releasing embarrassing information. There was information about Thomas's masculine transformation due to the steroids. Embarrassing? No, reality. Look at the photos of Thomas on anabolic steroids and now off. Anabolic steroids (like testosterone) masculine women. Bearded ladies. That is not pretty, however that is reality.
In its pretrial brief, the prosecution revealed that a Colorado doctor who examined Thomas in 2000 found that her beard had grown in so heavily that she had to shave it and that her voice had lowered to the male range. These were side effects of steroid use, and some would recede once Thomas ceased taking the substances, the doctor advised.
"Whether or not your voice will return to normal is unclear," the doctor said, according to the memorandum.
The disclosures "sought to embarrass, to shame, and to beat up on a little person," Balogh maintained; he noted that the disclosures of the doctor's findings had been made while the defense and prosecution were still discussing their relevance with the judge. Federal Judge Susan Illston, who is presiding at the trial, later ruled the evidence admissible.
The beard may have emerged from the dark shadows of anabolic use, however it is evidence of doping. Thus, Tammy Thomas may win or lose this case 'by a whisker'.