American track racer Tammy Thomas guilty of perjury

Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative steroids probe continues

Former world class American cyclist Tammy Thomas screamed at the jurors Friday after being convicted of perjury and lying to grand jury probing a sports steroid distribution ring.

"Look me in the eye, look me in the eye," Thomas screamed after the jurors' verdict was read in federal court. "Look me in the eye and tell me you mean what you did. Look me in the eye, you can't do it."

Thomas was found guilty of three counts of perjury and one of obstruction of justice, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

Some of American sports biggest stars have been swept up in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) steroids probe and prosecutors are now hoping to convict US baseball's home run king Barry Bonds on the similar charges as Thomas.

After venting her anger at the jurors, Thomas turned her rage towards the prosecutors, the Mercury News reported.

"Look me in the eye," she shouted at prosecutor Matt Parrella. "You like to destroy lives."

Then Thomas' father, who sat in the front row of the court throughout the proceedings, got in on the act. "They can't do it," he yelled.

Thomas could be sentenced to up to three years in jail for saying she did not take performance-enhancing drugs. US federal court judge Susan Illston set a sentencing date of July 18.

Bonds is watching the Thomas' case closely. Internal Revenue Service agent Jeff Novitzky testified against Thomas and is also expected to be the star witness for the prosecution in the Bonds' trial.

Eight others in the BALCO probe have pled guilty to charges, including disgraced track star Marion Jones. The former Olympic gold medallist Jones began serving her six-month sentence last month.

Bonds must wait until June 6 to see revamped charges against him from prosecutors who claim the former San Francisco Giants star lied when he told a BALCO grand jury that he never took steroids.

© BikeRadar & AFP 2008

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