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Original Issue

At The Finish Line?

Received last week by men's 100-meter world-record holder Tim
Montgomery and three other sprinters--Chryste Gaines, Michelle
Collins and Alvin Harrison--letters from the United States
Anti-Doping Agency saying that they face lifetime bans for using
illegal drugs. Then on Thursday the San Francisco Chronicle ran a
story including what it said was testimony Montgomery gave a
grand jury investigating the BALCO steroid scandal in which he
admitted taking human growth hormone and a steroid called "the
clear," which had been undetectable. Montgomery, the boyfriend of
sprinter Marion Jones, reportedly testified last fall that BALCO
president Victor Conte first mentioned "the clear" at the 2000
Olympics. Montgomery quoted Conte saying, "Watch the 100 meters.
Watch what Chryste gonna do. Watch what Alvin going to do in the
400. And watch what Marion going to do.... You will see how
powerful it is."

Montgomery's purported testimony, which contradicts his public
denials, also reportedly implicated his former coach Trevor
Graham. Despite Graham's denials that he ever gave steroids to
athletes, Montgomery's allegation and Graham's past work with
Collins and Harrison could cast suspicion over Olympic hopeful
Shawn Crawford, 26, a sprinter whose times have improved since he
started working with Graham earlier this year. (Crawford ran the
year's fastest 100 meters, at last month's Prefontaine Classic.)
The Chronicle reported that Montgomery also alleged to the grand
jury that Conte bragged he had given Winstrol, the steroid Ben
Johnson was caught using at the 1988 Olympics, to Giants slugger
Barry Bonds. (Conte denies giving Bonds steroids.) Last week
Bonds responded: "If any of the statements are true, they're
going to talk to my attorney, I guarantee you that. There's going
to be a lawsuit. See you in court, brother."

The four runners whom the USADA sent letters to last week have
denied taking steroids, and all are expected to contest the bans
in arbitration. Lawyers for the athletes are seeking a larger
pool of arbitrators than USADA rules permit. That means the legal
wrangling will carry on well past the U.S. Olympic Trials, which
start July 9, in Sacramento, and the sprinters who face a
lifetime ban could qualify for the U.S. team.

--George Dohrmann

COLOR PHOTO: FREDERIC LARSON-SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE/AP(MONTGOMERY IN CAR) OUT OF THE BAG Montgomery (far left and below, leaving the grandjury) saw his testimony published.