(CN) – A former professional cyclist who lied before a grand jury about having taken steroids can’t shake her convictions for perjury and obstruction with her “so-called literal truth theory,” the 9th Circuit ruled.
Tammy Thomas was called to testify before a grand jury that was investigating BALCO Laboratories’ illegal distribution of steroids to professional athletes.
Investigators thought Thomas was involved based on her e-mail exchanges with Patrick Arnold, who had connections to the lab. Arnold manufactured norbolethone, a steroid that at the time could not be detected through testing.
Thomas allegedly communicated with Arnold through his live-in girlfriend, who would relay Thomas’s orders for the steroids to Arnold. The girlfriend testified that Thomas knew exactly what she was taking and had a “steroid voice” on the phone.
Thomas told the grand jury that she had never taken anything Arnold gave her and that she had never taken anabolic steroids. But Arnold later pleaded guilty, which led to an indictment against Thomas for perjury and obstruction.
Thomas was convicted on four of the six counts against her. She appealed, arguing that what she said in her testimony was the “literal truth.”
Thomas claimed that she didn’t lie, because she never received anything from Arnold, but had actually been sent the products by his girlfriend. She also claimed that her “no” answer when asked if she had ever taken steroids was also literally true, because at the time that she was taking norbolethone, it was not listed as an anabolic steroid.
She held to this argument, despite Arnold’s testimony that Thomas contacted him because she wanted steroids, and that was why he sent her norbolethone.
A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit upheld Thomas’s convictions, ruling that she fully understood the government’s questions and her own responses.
“In sum, there was sufficient evidence for the jury reasonably to conclude that Thomas did not offer literally true answers,” Judge Jay Bybee wrote for the San Francisco-based panel.