SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Trevor Graham, who has coached some of the world’s fastest track stars, was charged Thursday with hindering the government’s steroids probe.

Graham, who sparked the now three-year-old federal investigation, was charged with three counts of making false statements to federal agents, who were investigating performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports.

“Today’s charges demonstrate this office’s ongoing commitment to investigate and prosecute not only those involved in the illegal doping of our nation’s athletes, but also those who lie to federal agents involved in a criminal investigation,” San Francisco U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan said.

Graham was summoned to appear for arraignment Nov. 16 in U.S. District Court. If convicted of all three counts, he faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and $750,000.

He operates Raleigh-based Sprint Capitol USA, a team of about 10 athletes that includes Justin Gatlin, the 100-meter co-world record holder who tested positive for testosterone and other steroids in April.

Graham also coached sprinter Marion Jones, who won five medals at the 2000 Sydney Games with him, and her former boyfriend Tim Montgomery, who was suspended from competition for two years despite never testing positive for a banned substance.

Several of Graham’s athletes, however, have tested positive for banned substances. The coach has been under investigation for at least two years for allegedly lying to investigators looking into doping among elite athletes connected to the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, the now-defunct Burlingame supplement company that served as a front for a steroids ring.

In August, the U.S. Olympic Committee banned Graham from its training centers.

Three years ago, Graham anonymously mailed a vial containing “the clear,” a previously undetectable steroid to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, a move that touched off the steroid investigation that has netted five convictions from those connected to BALCO, including Patrick Arnold, the Illinois chemist who produced the clear.

Barry Bonds’ trainer, Greg Anderson, also was convicted in the investigation.

Authorities also are examining whether Bonds, the San Francisco Giants slugger, committed perjury when he told the BALCO grand jury in 2003 that he never knowingly used steroids. He told the panel he believed Anderson had supplied him with flaxseed oil and arthritis balm.

AP-ES-11-02-06 1832EST

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