Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- Trevor Graham, track coach to Olympic medalists, pleaded not guilty Thursday to accusations he hindered a continuing government steroids probe targeting baseball star Barry Bonds and other high-profile athletes.

Graham, who has trained Justin Gatlin, Marion Jones, Tim Montgomery and others, is charged with three counts of making false statements to federal agents in an indictment issued Nov. 1 by the grand jury investigating performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports. Graham was freed on $25,000 bond after making his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Edwin Chen.

His attorney entered the plea on Graham's behalf.

Graham operates Raleigh, N.C.-based Sprint Capitol USA, a team of about 10 athletes that includes Gatlin, the 100-meter co-world record holder who tested positive for testosterone and other steroids in April. He also coached Jones, a sprinter who won five medals at the 2000 Sydney Games, and her former boyfriend Montgomery, formerly the world's fastest man who was suspended from competition for two years.

According to the indictment, Graham lied to federal investigators in 2004 when he told them he neither supplied his athletes with performance-enhancing drugs nor informed them about where drugs could be purchased. Graham was granted immunity for his cooperation, but that agreement didn't provide immunity from prosecution for making false statements.

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. It has since netted five convictions, including that of Patrick Arnold, the Illinois chemist who produced the clear for the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, the now-defunct Burlingame supplement company that served as a front for a steroids ring.

Bonds' trainer, Greg Anderson, was also convicted in the BALCO investigation. The BALCO grand jury is also examining whether Bonds, now a free agent, committed perjury when he told the grand jury in 2003 that he never knowingly used steroids. He testified that he believed Anderson had supplied him with flaxseed oil and arthritis balm.

The U.S. Olympic Committee banned Graham in August from its training centers because many of his athletes have been suspended for doping offenses. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency also notified Graham last week that he is accused of violating doping rules.

Following Graham's indictment, Olympic 200-meter gold medalist Shawn Crawford and former U.S. 100-meter champion Me'Lisa Barber announced they would no longer train with him.

If convicted, Graham faces a maximum 15 years in prison and $750,000 fine.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press