Yes, this actually surprises me. I’m just a fucking idiot I guess. Heartbreaking.
By DUFF WILSON
Published: April 13, 2008
LAREDO, Tex. ï¿½?? When one of the most successful coaches in the history of track and field goes on trial next month in the long-running federal investigation into doping in sports, lawyers for both sides are prepared to reveal that cheating in track is far more widespread than previously known.
The main witness against Trevor Graham, the coach, said he advised and supplied illicit drugs to Mr. Graham and his camp of elite athletes, including Marion Jones, as well as to many other sprinters and their coaches.
Angel Guillermo Heredia is identified as Source A in the felony indictment. He agreed to be a cooperating witness three years ago when investigators confronted him with evidence of his own drug trafficking and money laundering, court filings show. In that time, Mr. Heredia said, he has provided prosecutors with the names of many elite track athletes and Olympic medal winners, as well documentation.
Mr. Graham, who is charged with three counts of making false statements, says that he is innocent. A defense motion to dismiss, which was denied, said the governmentï¿½??s case had been built on accusations by Mr. Heredia that ï¿½??are not true and are merely an effort to attempt to divert attention from his illicit drug dealing and the illicit drug usage by athletes.ï¿½??
Mr. Grahamï¿½??s lawyers have said they will expose prominent athletes who were Mr. Herediaï¿½??s clients in an attempt to discredit him as a tainted witness who continued dispensing drugs and should be the one facing charges.
Mr. Heredia said he had named names to prosecutors, identifying about two dozen elite athletes as his clients in the hope of keeping his status as a federal witness rather than as a criminal target.
The federal authorities who have worked with Mr. Heredia for three years say that he is credible despite his unsavory activities, and that nothing he has told them has been shown to be untrue, said a lawyer familiar with the investigation who spoke anonymously because he is not authorized to discuss it.
In recent interviews with The New York Times, Mr. Heredia described how and with whom he worked, sharing copies of records that appear to link him to many of the best sprinters of the last decade, including e-mail exchanges of doping regimens, canceled checks, telephone recordings, shipping records, and laboratory readings of blood and urine samples, as well as Justice Department documents.
Among his clients, Mr. Heredia identified 12 Olympic medalists who had won a combined 26 Olympic medals and 21 world championships. Four of the 12, including Ms. Jones, had been named and barred from competition for illicit drug use. Eight of the 12 ï¿½?? notably, the sprinter Maurice Greene ï¿½?? have never been previously linked to performance-enhancing drugs.
Mr. Greene, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and five-time world champion, has never failed a drug test.
Mr. Heredia showed The Times a copy of a bank transaction form showing a $10,000 wire transfer from a Maurice Greene to a relative of Mr. Herediaï¿½??s, two sets of blood-test lab reports with Mr. Greeneï¿½??s name and age on them and an e-mail message from a close friend and track club teammate of Mr. Greeneï¿½??s, attaching one of the lab reports and saying, ï¿½??Angel, this is maurices results sorry it took so long.ï¿½??
Mr. Greene did not respond to numerous requests for comment over the last two weeks. His agent and his father each said he would pass along The Timesï¿½??s messages to Mr. Greene. Copies of documents Mr. Heredia showed The Times were sent to Mr. Greeneï¿½??s agent, Daniel Escamilla of HSInternational, based in California. Mr. Escamilla said he forwarded them to Mr. Greene but declined to make any comment.
The teammate also did not respond to telephone and e-mail messages asking for comment.
The Justice Department has kept its focus narrow in investigations rising from the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative, a California company raided by federal agents in 2003. The government has filed charges only against those who dealt the drugs or impeded the investigation, not against the users who told the truth.
Regulators Take Notice
Even if the Graham case is settled before trial or the names of sprinters Mr. Heredia says he worked with never come out in public testimony, prosecutors are expected to pass along the evidence and interview reports to the United States Anti-Doping Agency, which investigates doping in sports after criminal proceedings are complete.
Travis T. Tygart, the chief executive of the antidoping agency, declined to make any comment regarding Mr. Heredia in a telephone interview Tuesday. Mr. Tygart said, ï¿½??Usada continues to cooperate with the Balco investigators and will aggressively act on all reliable evidence of doping if and when received through the Balco investigation or otherwise.ï¿½??
Mr. Heredia said that he met with Mr. Tygart two years ago but that he did not reveal as many of his former clients to Mr. Tygart as he has to federal investigators.
The extent of Mr. Herediaï¿½??s disclosures were news to the International Association of Athletics Federations, trackï¿½??s governing body.
ï¿½??We would be very, very keen to talk to somebody who had information like that,ï¿½?? Chris Butler, a spokesman for I.A.A.F. antidoping programs, said recently in a telephone interview from his office in Monaco. Most of the doping suspensions last year were first investigated based on tips, which Mr. Butler said were ï¿½??crucial to our testing and targeting.ï¿½??
Mr. Heredia, 33, a former Mexican national discus champion, is a secretive figure on the track circuit who describes himself as a chemist, scientist and nutritionist. The son of a chemist, Mr. Heredia received an undergraduate degree in kinesiology from Texas A&M in Kingsville, records show.
He said he used family connections to pharmacies and labs in Mexico to help his business. For years, Mr. Heredia said, he helped his clients flout the rules and easily avoided detection. Substances like human growth hormone and the blood booster erythropoietin, or EPO, are still virtually impossible to detect, and ï¿½??it is still easy to use testosteroneï¿½?? with fast-acting creams, he said.
ï¿½??You combine all these things ï¿½?? boom! ï¿½?? you get amazing results,ï¿½?? Mr. Heredia said.
The I.A.A.F. performed 3,277 drug tests last year and barred only 10 athletes for doping. In her career, Ms. Jones passed more than 160 drug tests.
Mr. Heredia defended doping as necessary for his professional athletes to keep up with others who were taking performance enhancers or who had naturally higher hormone levels. ï¿½??If youï¿½??re at the highest levels, youï¿½??ve got to do this to be competitive,ï¿½?? he said.
As for why he was talking publicly and without the approval of prosecutors, Mr. Heredia said he wanted to explain himself before the trial and to write books about his role in the track world, as JosÃ© Canseco did with steroids in baseball.
ï¿½??I tried for years to protect them,ï¿½?? Mr. Heredia said of the athletes, ï¿½??and at this point, Iï¿½??m just doing whatï¿½??s best for me.ï¿½??
Decision to Testify
Mr. Heredia and his lawyer, Armando Trevino, said that prosecutors had not granted him immunity and that they still worried that he could be charged. Prosecutors offered last year to help Mr. Heredia, a Mexican citizen, with his American visa, if necessary, according to a court filing.
The three charges against Mr. Graham all involve his statements about Mr. Heredia. According to the indictment, in 2004 Mr. Graham told Jeff Novitzky, a special agent for the Internal Revenue Service, that he had never met Mr. Heredia nor had they talked on the phone after 1997. Mr. Graham also said he never received or distributed drugs from Mr. Heredia and did not send athletes to him for drugs.
Ten months after Mr. Grahamï¿½??s interview with Mr. Novitzky, Mr. Heredia was called before the grand jury. Before testifying, Mr. Heredia said, he was interviewed by Mr. Novitzky, who held up a thick stack of Mr. Herediaï¿½??s phone records and said, ï¿½??Weï¿½??ve got you.ï¿½?? Mr. Novitzky gave him the choice: either cooperate and tell what you know about the underside of track and field or face years in prison for drug trafficking.
Mr. Heredia showed The Times a photograph he said was taken in Laredo in December 1996 in which his hand rests on Mr. Grahamï¿½??s shoulder. Mr. Heredia said they stopped working together in 2000 after a financial dispute.
Mr. Grahamï¿½??s lawyer, Bill Keane, declined to comment on Mr. Heredia, the photograph and the pending trial except to say that he expected Mr. Heredia to be a government witness.
Gail Shifman, Mr. Grahamï¿½??s former lawyer, described Mr. Heredia in a 2006 statement as a wrongdoer who was making ï¿½??fraudulent allegations.ï¿½?? She wrote, ï¿½??It is a sad comment that the pursuit of justice can be turned and twisted by personal vendettas and revenge.ï¿½??
Mr. Heredia showed The Times e-mail messages, lab reports or financial records relating to 10 of the 12 Olympic medal winners he identified as his drug clients. The documents show that Mr. Heredia was paid by the athletes, had access to their private medical records and sent e-mail messages suggesting doping regimens, often with first-name familiarity, but they are not definitive proof that any of these athletes took performance-enhancing drugs.
Although most of their names are not mentioned in this article, Mr. Greene was identified because he is the most prominent athlete not previously linked to doping and was given copies of the documents Mr. Heredia provided as evidence of their working relationship.
Three of the 12 won Olympic medals in 2004, the others earlier. Mr. Heredia also identified as clients another dozen elite track stars who never won an Olympic medal.
ï¿½??All these people are talented,ï¿½?? Mr. Heredia said. ï¿½??The thing is they needed an extra boost. Itï¿½??s a difference between running 10 flat all year, or 9.8 four times a year when you had to.ï¿½??
Mr. Heredia told prosecutors in December 2006 and The Times recently that Mr. Greene had paid him a total of about $40,000, including the $10,000 wire transfer, for advice and steroid creams, EPO, insulin and stimulants in 2003 and 2004. Mr. Greene had won two Olympic gold medals when Mr. Heredia said Mr. Greene first contacted him after the 2002 track season. By then, Mr. Greene had lost the title ï¿½??worldï¿½??s fastest manï¿½?? to Tim Montgomery and was also losing races to Dwain Chambers; those sprinters were being helped by taking Balco drugs, court records later showed.
Reviewing Mr. Greeneï¿½??s two blood reports for The Times, Dr. David L. Diuguid, director of hematology at Columbia University Department of Medicine, said they looked ï¿½??totally normal.ï¿½??
Mr. Greene, slowed by injuries in 2003, ran faster in 2004. He clocked 9.87 seconds in the 100 meters ï¿½?? his best time in three years ï¿½?? for the bronze medal at the Athens Olympics, where he also took a silver for anchoring the 4x100-meter relay.
Mr. Heredia said he stopped working with Mr. Greene after the Athens Games because of the expanding Balco investigation. Mr. Greene has not broken 10 seconds since then. He retired from racing in February at age 33 and was named an ambassador for the I.A.A.F.
Of the two dozen sprinters Mr. Heredia said he worked with over the years, official track records show that seven of them have been barred for periods of two years to life for drug violations. Mr. Heredia said some took drugs he did not recommend. Others were implicated in records seized from Balco after they switched from working with Mr. Graham and Mr. Heredia to working with Victor Conte Jr., the Balco co-founder.
Mr. Graham portrays himself as a whistle-blower because he sent a Balco syringe to investigators. But Mr. Heredia and Mr. Conte, in separate interviews, said that Mr. Graham was simply trying to put Mr. Conte out of business.
Mr. Conte confirmed that he had known Mr. Heredia was advising and supplying drugs to athletes, including Ms. Jones, but he considered Mr. Heredia less sophisticated than himself.
Some of the records Mr. Heredia showed to The Times were blunt and to the point. One e-mail message from a world indoor champion sprinter stated: ï¿½??Send me some GH to my house. I am running Zurick. Let me know how much it is and I will send.ï¿½?? Mr. Heredia said ï¿½??GHï¿½?? was shorthand for growth hormone.
A July 2003 e-mail message from Mr. Heredia to Raymond Stewart, a track coach in Texas and silver medalist for Jamaica at the 1984 Olympics, described the drugs Mr. Heredia had recommended for two of Mr. Stewartï¿½??s runners. It referred to bottles of ï¿½??gï¿½?? ï¿½?? another shorthand for growth hormone ï¿½?? and testosterone.
Reached by phone at his home, Mr. Stewart initially denied knowing Mr. Heredia. But after being provided with a copy of the 2003 message from Mr. Heredia, he said they had met. Mr. Stewart also contended that he had rejected the drugs Mr. Heredia offered in the note. ï¿½??We donï¿½??t do that,ï¿½?? Mr. Stewart said.
As Mr. Heredia waits to testify and worries he will be arrested, he still has work to keep him busy. He continues to advise foreign athletes on performance-enhancing drugs, he said, but never in the United States and no longer as a supplier.