Corey's mother, Patricia Johnston, who still lived in Michigan, said her son would call and seem distant and angry. When she first saw him about two years after he left home, she said it didn't occur to her that Corey might be using steroids. "I just thought, 'Wow, he really grew up to be a strong young man,'" she said.
She said on "Good Morning America" today she had no idea her son was using steroids, but did notice a change in his size and behavior.
"He didn't seem very happy and [he was] angry. [It was] a real distant relationship. It really … it hurt," Patricia said.
Eventually, Gahan took Corey to see John Todd Miller, who worked at a storefront wellness clinic that dispensed steroids. The clinic ordered blood tests and found that Corey had unusually high and "potentially dangerous" blood testosterone levels, according to court records. Once his testosterone levels stabilized, Miller put Corey back on a controlled dose of steroids again, the court documents state.
Miller and Corey's new trainer pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute steroids to a minor. His trainer was sentenced to six months in prison; Miller was sentenced in September to 18 months in prison.
Miller declined to comment. His lawyer, James Caltagirone, said using the steroids under Miller's supervision was better than getting them off the street. "What's pretty clear is that before he met Todd Miller, he had been using steroids," Caltagirone said. "The medical supervision wasn't there 100 percent. But there was more than he would have gotten on the street somewhere."
Corey continued to win, becoming a national champion and breaking speed records, and Gahan said they didn't think at the time about what they were doing. "We were caught up in the high. We were caught up in the excitement," Jim Gahan said.
The long-term effect of steroid use during adolescence hasn't been measured, Pope said, but Corey had to take prescription pain pills to cope with his intense workouts. And eventually, the cheating caught up with him. Corey was suspended for two years in 2006 after he failed a drug test.
After federal investigators arrested Miller and Corey's trainer, Corey eventually agreed to cooperate in the investigation against his father. "It was the right thing to do," Corey's mother said. "He had to do it, but still it's his father and a very hard thing to do."
Corey hasn't spoken to his father in more than a year and said he has no plans to return to competitive sports. He works in a retail store and said he will channel his competitive drive into his everyday life. "I think there's more to life than sports," he said.
His father now said he sees the mistakes he made.
"I probably walk 20 miles a day here … pacing," Gahan said from prison. "And I do 500 pushups and 1,000 sit-ups everyday to burn myself out, so that at night I can sleep. Because I understand the hurt that I caused my family."
The 18-year-old said he hopes other young people can learn from his story.
"I think it's good to understand the natural talent and hard work ethic is all it takes to win in sports these days. The medications and all of this, It's a short, quick fix, but it's a destined for failure. If kids really understand, it will help their decision," Corey said.