Sports Outside the Beltway

Barry Bonds Started Steroids after McGwire-Sosa Chase

San Francisco Chronicle reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams have written a book saying Barry Bonds started using steroids after the Mark McGwire-Sammy Sosa chase.

Barry Bonds began using steroids after the 1998 baseball season and came to rely on a wide variety of performance-enhancing drugs over the next several years, according to a book written by two Chronicle reporters and excerpted in this week’s Sports Illustrated. The excerpt offers the most comprehensive account of Bonds’ experience with steroids, tracing his involvement to the off-season following the historic home-run race featuring Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. Bonds decided to use performance-enhancing substances after watching McGwire — whom the excerpt says he suspected was “a juicer” — gain national acclaim for eclipsing Roger Maris’ storied single-season record.

Bonds has denied using performance-enhancing drugs.

The excerpt paints a sweeping picture of Bonds’ thoughts about using steroids; the role of his weight trainer, Greg Anderson, in introducing him to specific drugs; how his choice of substances changed after he struggled with injuries and met Victor Conte, owner of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative; and Bonds’ reaction as his once-supple body turned thick and muscle-bound.


“Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal that Rocked Professional Sports,” co-authored by Chronicle reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, is scheduled for publication March 27 by Gotham Books. The excerpt says Fainaru-Wada and Williams based their narrative “on more than a thousand pages of documents and interviews with more than 200 people, many of whom we spoke to repeatedly.”

From 2003 through 2005, Fainaru-Wada and Williams wrote nearly 100 stories for The Chronicle, lifting the BALCO investigation into an international story and eventually leading to congressional pressure that forced Major League Baseball to twice toughen its steroids policy.

The excerpt suggests Bonds was not truthful during his testimony before a federal grand jury in San Francisco on Dec. 4, 2003. Bonds testified that he used a clear substance and a cream supplied by BALCO, but he said he thought they were flaxseed oil and a rubbing balm for arthritis, The Chronicle previously reported. Bonds also flatly stated he never injected himself with drugs, according to a transcript of his testimony reviewed by the newspaper.

But the book excerpt in Sports Illustrated describes the way Bonds knowingly and meticulously used steroids — including “the clear” and “the cream” provided by BALCO — and even took control of his drug regimen when he disagreed with Anderson. The excerpt also says Bonds “learned how to inject himself” and describes one conversation with Anderson in which Bonds says of starting another drug cycle, “I’ll do it myself.”


The excerpt spells out in vivid detail what attracted Bonds to performance-enhancing drugs: his intense jealousy of McGwire’s 70-home run season and the national hero worship it created.

Bonds repeatedly made racially tinged remarks about McGwire to Bell, according to the excerpt, at one point saying of McGwire’s chase of Maris, “They’re just letting him do it because he’s a white boy.”

McGwire’s historic season drove Bonds to wander into territory he had previously avoided, according to the excerpt. “To Bonds it was a joke,” one passage reads. “He had been around enough gyms to recognize that McGwire was a juicer. Bonds himself had never used anything more performance enhancing than a protein shake from the health-food store. But as the 1998 season unfolded, and as he watched Mark McGwire take over the game — his game — Barry Bonds decided that he, too, would begin using what he called ‘the s — .’ “

The exerpt in question is supposed to be at SI’s website but what appears instead is a promotional section, “Bonds exposed Shadows details superstar slugger’s steroid use,” which notes “An excerpt of Game of Shadows that details Bonds’ steroid use appears exclusively in the March 13 issue of Sports Illustrated, which is available on newsstands beginning on Wednesday.” There are links to interviews with the authors, assessments by SI writers as to what it all means, a collection of Bonds quotes on steroids, and a photo gallery.

Not surprisingly, this is the cover story.

SI’s recap of the summary is longish, however, including details like this:

Photo: Barry Bonds SI cover steroids The authors, Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, describe in sometimes day-to-day, drug-by-drug detail how often and how deeply Bonds engaged in the persistent doping. For instance, the authors write that by 2001, when Bonds broke Mark McGwire’s single-season home-run record (70) by belting 73, Bonds was using two designer steroids referred to as the Cream and the Clear, as well as insulin, human growth hormone, testosterone decanoate (a fast-acting steroid known as Mexican beans) and trenbolone, a steroid created to improve the muscle quality of cattle.

BALCO tracked Bonds’ usage with doping calendars and folders — detailing drugs, quantities, intervals and Bonds’ testosterone levels — that wound up in the hands of federal agents upon their Sept. 3, 2003 raid of the Burlingame, Calif., business.

Depending on the substance, Bonds used the drugs in virtually every conceivable form: injecting himself with a syringe or being injected by his trainer, Greg Anderson, swallowing pills, placing drops of liquid under his tongue, and, in the case of BALCO’s notorious testosterone-based cream, applying it topically.

According to the book, Bonds gulped as many as 20 pills at a time and was so deeply reliant on his regimen that he ordered Anderson to start “cycles” — a prescribed period of steroid use lasting about three weeks — even when he was not due to begin one. Steroid users typically stop usage for a week or two periodically to allow the body to continue to produce natural testosterone; otherwise, such production diminishes or ceases with the continued introduction of synthetic forms of the muscle-building hormone.

One wonders how MLB will respond to all this.

Update: ESPN weighs in with some other information gleaned from the SI excerpt:

• Bonds was motivated to take performance-enhancing drugs by the Mark McGwire-Sammy Sosa chase of the single-season home run record in 1998 and he had never taken any before 1998.

• Through research, Bonds developed a deep knowledge of performance enhancers. He even talked, through third parties, to medical authorities who advised him not to use steroids.

• He began with Winstrol after the 1998 season. He also worked out extensively, sometimes spending 12 hours a day at the gym where he met the Weight Guru, who turned out to be Greg Anderson.

• He also took Deca-Durabolin. By 2001, the authors allege, he was using two designer steroids referred to as the Cream and the Clear, as well as insulin, human growth hormone, testosterone decanoate (a fast-acting steroid known as Mexican beans) and trenbolone, a steroid created to improve the muscle quality of cattle. That’s the same year Bonds broke Mark McGwire’s single-season home-run record (70) by belting 73.

• He got the substances from Anderson, his personal trainer who became a San Francisco Giants employee. Anderson got them from BALCO labs, headed by Victor Conte. Anderson’s employment by the Giants irked the team’s training staff, according to the excerpt. The Giants also did a background check, discovering that “World Gym was known as a place to score steroids and that Anderson himself was rumored to be a dealer. But the club decided it didn’t want to alienate Bonds on this issue, either. The trainers stayed.”

• Despite seeing a big change in Bonds’ physical appearance, Giants officials did not challenge their star for fear of upsetting him. “The Giants, from owner Peter Magowan to manager Dusty Baker, had no interest in learning whether Bonds was using steroids, either,” the excerpt contends. “Although it was illegal to use the drugs without a prescription, baseball had never banned steroids. Besides, by pursuing the issue, the Giants ran the risk of poisoning their relationship with their touchy superstar — or, worse, of precipitating a drug scandal the year before the opening of their new ballpark, where Bonds was supposed to be the main gate attraction.”

• Anderson kept meticulous records on Bonds’ program, many of them on a computer. At times, Bonds gulped as many as 20 pills at a time. He also learned to inject himself.

• Bonds had a relationship with Kimberly Bell, a woman he met in the Candlestick Park parking lot in 1994 while he was married. Bonds even put a downpayment on a house for Bell in Arizona from monies he made from card-show appearances (and didn’t report as income). She claims he later threatened to kill her.

• According to the excerpt, Anderson told an acquaintance who was wearing a wire in 2003 that: “The whole thing is, everything I’ve been doing, it’s all undetectable. The stuff I have, we created it. You can’t buy it anywhere else; you can’t get it anywhere else. You can take [it] the day of [a drug test], pee, and it comes up clear.

“See, like Marion Jones and them — it’s the same stuff they went to the Olympics with and they test them every f—— week. So that’s why I know it works, so that’s why I know we’re not in trouble. So that’s cool.”

• Bonds had immunity in grand jury testimony from everything but perjury. He claimed in testimony that he didn’t know what Anderson was giving him. “At the end of [the] 2002, 2003 season, when I was going through [a bad period,] my dad died of cancer…. I was fatigued, just needed recovery you know, and this guy says, ‘Try this cream, try this cream,’” he said. “And Greg came to the ballpark and said, you know, ‘This will help you recover.’ And he rubbed some cream on my arm … gave me some flaxseed oil, man. It’s like, ‘Whatever, dude.’ ”



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All anyone has to do is look at Barry Bonds in his days with the Pittsburgh Pirates …. All my cards show him as a normal person, then shortly after that, when he joined with the S.F. Giants, his head size exploded… I am no expert on this subject, but it seems to me that while your body might get big from lifting weights, no way does your head size increase that much, unless we are talking about his ego

Posted by Bill DeBolt | March 8, 2006 | 06:14 pm | Permalink

Barry Bonds is one of those guys who used steroids and won’t admit it like a man as Giambi did!

Posted by Bob Finley | May 16, 2006 | 01:58 pm | Permalink

I am totally through with major league baseball. The commissioner knew there was rampid steroid use and refused to do anything. Pete Rose was banned for life from baseball for betting on games. Did his betting give him an unfair advantage in winning games? I don’t think so. Barry Bonds will ulimately be found guilty of perjury before the federal grand jury. When that day comes, major league baseball should ban Barry from major league baseball and erase his name from the record books.

Posted by Joe Bucco | May 17, 2006 | 08:15 am | Permalink

I mean really who would takes stuff or rub stuff on ones body and not know what it was or what it is used for.

Barry Bonds is not a stupid man. He knows what he uses and what he is using it for. The man is old and needs all the help he can get to stay in a game that he Quotes “loves” and feel competitive. I mean look at the mans armor he wears just to keep him from getting hit.

He is breaking records and is on steroids and if he is found guilty for not telling the truth to the grand jury can they really take it out of the record books all that he did. I don’t know if that is possible. They may just have to put the astrick by it.

The thing I don’t get usually if a person is under investigation about something that has to do with their job. The person doesn’t get to continue to do said job. The person would have to take a leave of absents until the matter is cleared up. So why is Barry Bond still swinging a Bat and Playing baseball. He should be suppened until the Grand Jury makes their final decision. But that is not going to happen.

For the “LOVE OF THE GAME” Barry needs to leave.

Posted by Michael Smith | May 31, 2006 | 08:15 am | Permalink

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