| Tim Montgomery
San Francisco: The world’s fastest man Tim Montgomery on Thursday appeared before a grand jury investigating a lab that supplies some top athletes with nutritional supplements.
Federal officials have refused to discuss the scope of the grand jury’s proceedings. Two sources familiar with the probe said this week that the grand jury is focusing on drug use by athletes as well as possible tax evasion by the lab, Balco.
Montgomery, the world record-holder at 100 m, was among the latest track and field star to appear before the panel. US sprinter Chryste Gaines, a 1996 Olympic relay gold-medallist, also appeared before the grand jury. US shot putter Kevin Toth and 1,500-meter runner Regina Jacobs were among those who testified last week.
Dozens of other athletes, including major league baseball’s Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi, boxer Shane Mosley and several NFL players, also have been subpoenaed.
All have been customers of the Bay Area laboratory co-operative. An attorney for Balco founder Victor Conte has said his client is the target of the grand jury probe.
Montgomery, 28, who set the world record of 9.78 seconds in 2002 and is Olympic sprinting champion Marion Jones’ boyfriend, did not comment. His agent, Charlie Wells, also declined to comment.
Gaines, 33, who ran the two fastest 100 times of her career in the last few months, also declined to comment after her afternoon appearance. An appearance before the grand jury, or being subpoenaed to testify, does not mean an athlete is a target of the probe.
Balco is at the centre of an investigation by anti-doping agencies into the newly discovered steroid THG. An unidentified coach who turned in a syringe containing THG said he got the substance from Conte, a charge he denies.
At least five athletes have already tested positive for THG, including Jacobs, Toth and European sprinter Dwain Chambers.
One of the sources said the grand jury is “looking at at least five different drugs — steroids, hormones, THG, Modafinil, EPO.”
Conte declined an e-mail request for comment.
Douglas Schwartz, an attorney representing Jacobs, Gaines and other athletes subpoenaed, said the athletes are not targets of the probe.
“The Department of Justice policy is that targets of a grand jury do not receive subpoenas. If you receive a grand jury subpoena then, at least at that time, you are not a target,” he said.
Schwartz also contended athletes did not break any laws if they used THG. The US Food and Drug Administration declared THG an illegal drug last month. Prosecutors and lawyers disagree whether it was illegal before then.
“I think you will find any athlete that used THG did so without knowledge of what it was,” Schwartz said. “But with or without that knowledge, it is not a controlled substance.”