SAN FRANCISCO Former elite cyclist Tammy Thomas was indicted by a federal grand jury today on charges of hindering the government s steroid probe.
Thomas, 36, is accused of three counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice for allegedly lying to a federal grand jury investigating a steroid ring that spanned across many sports.
The indictment adds cycling, a sport often associated with doping, to a probe that has exposed steroid use in professional baseball, football and track and field.
Thomas was banned for life in August 2002 after testing positive for the performance-enhancing drug Norbolethone, which was detected in her urine samples.
At the time, the drug was an obscure steroid that had been used in a few human tests in the 1960s. It was rediscovered by chemist Patrick Arnold, who supplied BALCO with undetectable performance-enhancing drugs and is among five people who have pleaded guilty in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative investigation.
Norbolethone never had been marketed for public use, which made it helpful to athletes seeking an undetectable edge. The substance, also known as Genabol, became popular among Olympic athletes during the 2000 Sydney Games.
The indictment accuses Thomas of lying when she testified she never used performance-enhancing drugs. She also is said to have lied when she testified that she did not get illegal drugs from Arnold, who was convicted in the scandal earlier this year and is serving a three-month sentence in a Morgantown, W.Va., federal prison.
Authorities ordered Thomas to make an initial appearance Jan. 5 in federal court.
Thomas, a Yazoo City, Miss. native, was a silver medalist in the individual sprint in the 2001 World Track Cycling Championships. She always has maintained her innocence and said the positive results might have been triggered by contraceptives she was using.
Last month, Trevor Graham, coach to track sensations Marion Jones, Justin Gatlin and Tim Montgomery, also was indicted for allegedly obstructing the steroids probe. He has pleaded not guilty.
Each count carries a maximum five-year term and $250,000 fine.
Thomas did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
With the indictment of Graham and Thomas, U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan said the government s steroid probe has entered a new stage in which athletes are being targeted for lying.
A third stage has begun as we bring charges against individuals who lied to investigators or committed perjury while testifying under oath to a federal grand jury, Ryan said.
The government is investigating Barry Bonds on suspicion that he, too, lied that he did not use performance-enhancing drugs given to him by his trainer, Greg Anderson.
Anderson pleaded guilty to steroid distribution and money laundering charges, served three months and is back in prison on a contempt of court charge for refusing to testify against Bonds.
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