In the Shadows

March 27, 2006

THE NAMES of the track and field athletes in Game of Shadows are familiar ones. What's startling is the extent of their illicit behavior. Driven by a culture in which performance enhancement is all but a given and enabled by the likes of BALCO founder Victor Conte, alleged steroid chemist Patrick Arnold and coaches, the athletes in Shadows act desperately and recklessly. For instance:

•According to the book, coach Trevor Graham asked Conte to work with Marion Jones leading up to the 2000 Olympic Games, which presented Conte with a dilemma: He was already providing performance enhancers to her rival Chryste Gaines. The authors say this problem was solved when Gaines gave Conte permission to provide drugs to Jones--in exchange for a cut of any money Jones paid him. (Gaines, 35, was suspended for two years in December for steroid use. Jones has denied using steroids.)

•In the fall of 2000, according to Shadows, Conte brought together a team of coaches and trainers for the purpose of transforming sprinter "Tiny" Tim Montgomery into a world-record holder in the 100 meters, a process that included significant amounts of banned drugs. Montgomery, who had recently begun working with Graham, was subjected to a battery of tests that showed that he was already doping. "You're oversaturated with performance-enhancing drugs," Conte is quoted as telling Montgomery, who continued to work with Conte. (Montgomery ran the 100 in 9.78 seconds in September 2002, breaking Maurice Greene's world record of 9.79. His time was wiped from the books in December when the Court of Arbitration for Sport suspended him for two years based mainly on BALCO evidence; he denies knowingly taking drugs. Graham, who continues to train world-class athletes, has denied giving his athletes drugs; he has not been indicted.)

•Before a workout in June 2002 sprinter Alvin Harrison, silver medalist in the 400 meters at the 2000 Olympics, took a dose of Modafinil, a banned stimulant used to treat sleep disorders, that had been provided to coach Remi Korchemny. "Conte had advised Korchemny that Harrison should wait an hour after taking the little white pill before beginning to warm up, but Harrison was champing at the bit within 45 minutes," Shadows reports. "Korchemny cut him loose to do a test 400 meters, and the coach reported to Conte that Harrison ran like 'crazy.' Korchemny had expected Harrison to run the distance in 45.70 seconds, but instead he was timed in 44.78." (Harrison, 32, admitted in 2004 to using banned substances and received a four-year suspension; Korchemny, 73, pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of misbranding drugs and was sentenced in February to one year of probation.)

PHOTOMICHEL EULER/AP (MONTGOMERY)MEDICINE MAN Conte (top, with picture of Jones) claims he helped make Montgomery a star. PHOTOPAUL SAKUMA/AP (CONTE)[See caption above.]

Eagle (-2)
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