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Former Olympic cyclist Tammy Thomas convicted of perjury in BALCO case

Former Olympic track cyclist Tammy Thomas was found guilty of three counts of perjury on Friday.

Thomas, the first defendant charged in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative investigation, was acquitted of two counts of lying to a federal grand jury investigating the BALCO case, but the jury in a federal district court found her guilty of three counts.

Thomas, banned from cycling for life in 2002, has since gone on to pursue a law career and is now a third-year law student at the University of Oklahoma. That option, however, may now be closed, since prospective attorneys are required to complete a rigorous character and fitness review before admission to the bar. It was a fact Thomas was clearly aware of when the verdict was announced.

“I already had one career taken away from me,” she yelled at the jury. “Look me in the eye. You can’t do that!”

Visibly shaken, Thomas then turned to the prosecutors’ table and made a similar statement.

“Look me in the eye,” she said. “You like to destroy people’s lives.”

Thomas’ trial was closely watch by attorneys representing American home run king Barry Bonds, who also faces perjury charges for lying to the same grand jury investigating the BALCO case.

Thomas was banned from cycling for life after drug testers found traces of Norbolethone, an experimental steroid that never received FDA approval for distribution. Thomas allegedly received the drug from chemist Patrick Arnold, who reproduced the drug, using information filed by its original developers.

Thomas told the BALCO grand jury that she had never received the drug, but Arnold testified to the contrary.

Perhaps most damaging was testimony from witnesses who recounted the effects of the drug on Thomas’ physique.

University of Colorado endocrinologist Margaret Wierman testified that she had “serious questions” when she examined Thomas and observed “very masculine” body features.

“My recollection was that when I examined her, she had specific signs of evidence of a full beard,” Wierman said, adding that Thomas also showed signs of male-pattern balding, shrinking breasts and hair on her chest and arms.

One drug tester, who appeared at Thomas’ home for an out-of-competition test, said he observed traces of shaving cream on the cyclists face when she came to the door.

Thomas’ conviction may be a bad sign for Bonds, who is facing similar charges. Bonds’ case will be handled by the same prosecutors in charge of the Thomas case.

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