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Tuesday, March 07, 2006
New and Stunning Allegations Against Barry Bonds

Sports Illustrated has just posted a story on a new book by San Francisco Chronicle reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams entitled "Game of Shadows." The book examines, in excruciating detail, alleged steroid use by Barry Bonds:
Beginning in 1998 with injections in his buttocks of Winstrol, a powerful steroid, Barry Bonds took a wide array of performance-enhancing drugs over at least five seasons in a massive doping regimen that grew more sophisticated as the years went on . . .
[W]hen 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 . . .

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.
These allegations are based on information compiled by Fainaru-Wada and Williams over a two-year investigation that included court documents, affidavits filed by BALCO investigators, confidential memoranda of federal agents (including statements made to them by athletes and trainers), grand jury testimony, audiotapes and interviews with more than 200 sources.

If these allegations are true--and, in Bonds' defense, it may be difficult to verify some of the sources--then I suspect that he will not be elected in the Hall of Fame. Fainaru-Wada and Williams have painted a grotesque picture of a habitual cheater whose performance was greatly aided by prohibited drugs. Also, some will now argue that Bonds' existing records should be removed or have an asterisk placed next them. Needless to say, Games of Shadows will make for even more awkward times this season as Bonds approaches the home run records of Babe Ruth and possibly Hank Aaron.

And how many pitchers will now walk him -- every time up? He may never get another pitch to hit.

Thanks to Attorney Brian Barnes of the Mississippi College School of Law Library for alerting me to this story.


The SI article is extremely detailed, going into exactly which drugs Bonds too and when, and if the book is more of the same, the sheer amount of evidence is stunning.

The authors have also posted a list of their sources on SI, and wisely so, I might add. Annoucing the sources separates them from others who might just asy "Bonds was an obvious 'roider"

These aren't allegations - this is damning evidence, and I wonder how Barry will react to it.

Blogger Satchmo -- 3/07/2006 3:36 PM  

While I hope this will severely hinder his chances at the Hall, you still read about many writers who say they will vote for Palmiero (just maybe not on the first ballot). Now, there are certainly major differences between the two, but the fact remains that there is hard evidence that Raffy juiced. On the other hand, from what I gather the evidence against Bonds is still "he said, he said." Whether you believe Bonds's implicit assertion that there is a massive conspiracy against him is one thing, but it wouldn't surprise me to see HoF voters take cover in the fact that Bonds never tested positive and that all of the statements against him are from questionable sources. Big disclaimer: I assume the evidence against him will be based solely on the statements of Conte et al., but having obviously not read the book, I don't know for a fact that is it.

You also have the argument advanced by the likes of Jayson Stark that because we don't know everyone who used steroids we shouldn't hold it against anyone. Although he advanced that argument in support of Raffy, I don't see why it wouldn't apply in equal force to Bonds, even if everything in that book is true.

Blogger RPS -- 3/07/2006 8:56 PM  

Today, I argued with a couple of people who stated that the use of performance enhancing drugs in baseball does nothing to affect a player's statistics. To that assertion, I have to laugh.

Why are anabolic steriods and human growth hormone "performance enhancing" substances? Because they provide the human body with massive amounts of synthetic testosterone and anabolic hormones which: (1) rapidly increases protein assimilation and synthesis, resulting in easier, much faster growth of muscle tissue; (2) dramatically increases the body's ability to recover from training session to training session, resulting in the ability to train more intensely and more frequently; and (3) significantly reduce the risk of injuries to bones, joints, ligaments, etc., or vice versa, heal existing sports-related injuries faster (if the user is training and using the "juice" properly).

Now how can those factors improve a baseball player's statistics, particularly batting statistics? As for (1), more muscle mass equals increased strength and power, which equals more explosiveness and power in someone's swing (again, provided that he is training properly so as not become inflexible, for example, with the increased size).

With (2), and this may be the most important factor, the player gets to practice and train more. ALOT MORE, without getting tired, fatigued, etc.. More repetitions equals more time to perfect one's swing and technique, which equals more hits, more homeruns, and a better average. Compare this with the "natural" player, who can only take a limited number of swings a day before needing to stop and then rest and recover for the next workout. A "juiced up" player, especially one who is on a diet conducive to strength gain and muscle growth, can work out morning, afternoon, and night - considerably more than the "natural" - and then recover even faster than his counterpart to do it all over again.

As for (3), there are several steriods that have a reputation for rapidly healing bone-related injuries and preventing them. Deca-Durabolin, which Bonds allegedly used at some point, is one of them. The nagging injuries that the "natural" is likely to encounter over the course of his baseball career are nonexistent to the "juicer" in most cases. However, the performance drug-enhanced player is probably more likely to suffer muscle cramps or tears, but again, with the right kind of approach to his training, the risk of this is low.

The facts on performance enhancing drugs and the results they provide are easily researchable, and for anyone who has personal knowledge of athletes who have used them, you know about these things I have just described.

Anonymous Lance -- 3/08/2006 1:04 AM  

Oh, and I almost forgot about the reason for the above comment: Just as an athlete who is using performance enhancing drugs is not considered "natural," Barry Bonds' statistics are likewise "unnatural" provided that these allegations are true. Therefore, he should not be worthy of eligibility for the Hall of Fame in this reader's honest opinion.

Anonymous Lance -- 3/08/2006 1:10 AM  

I've defended Bonds for a long time, under the assumption that whatever steroids he did take weren't that much more effective than the legal bodybuilders he and everyone else in the league uses, and that his use of illegal steroids was fairly limited. I'm going to wait and see how many of this book's allegations hold up under scrutiny, but I'm obviously going to have to re-think Bond's career.

Anonymous Adam -- 3/08/2006 1:51 AM  

So, the evidence in this book is damning?

This book, by two authors who believed their BALCO coverage for the S.F. Chronicle would garner them a Pulitzer. (by the way, the Pulitzer committee refused to consider the series for a prize - could it be because they drew baseless inferences and conclusions based on scanty evidence?).

Is the evidence in the SI excerpts any more damning than LA Confidential, the Lance Armstrong expose? If not, then why isn't Armstrong, who tested positive for a cortoid at the Tour de France in 1999, being "thrown under the bus" as is Bonds?

Oh, I forgot, Armstrong is white.

And to say Bonds began this descent into steroids because of some maniacally jealous reaction to Mark McGwire - ahhh, and that, folks, is racism at its most subtle - and finest.

Blogger D-Wil -- 3/08/2006 8:29 AM  

D-wil Lance Armstrong is a tool. He left his wife once he got famous, and I definitely believe that he was blood-doping. If whatever International Cycling body had actually handled the testing right, instead of putting his name on it like they shouldn't have and testing it secretly years afterwards, we might have less an opinion of the man.

I can't really judge which man is worse, because obviously they're both monsters. But even if we can find racial motivation in the Barry-bashing, it still doesn't recuse him from the cheating and lying.

I do find the McGwire anecdote a little strange, but I'll have to read the book to see how they reached that conclusion - whether it was inference or a direct quote Barry made. They seem to suggest that it was a direct quote, but who knows?

And since we're talking about race and steroid use, I personally think the worst steroid user I've ever read about is Bill Romanowski. He DID get way too much leeway from the press and the fans, for everything he did, including steroids and assault.

I don't know if that's directly attributable to race so much as the absolute idiocy that exists in professional football, which turns a blind eye to racism, sexism and homophobia, but that's something we can definitely talk about. There's a lot wrong in our sporting world, and the existing racist tendancies obviously don't help things any.

Blogger Satchmo -- 3/08/2006 8:58 AM  

I just watched Lance Williams, one of the Bonds book co-authors assert that Bonds' steroid use began in reaction to McGwire breaking the home run record. Williams further stated that, "Bonds transformed himself into a pure slugger" (perhaps that's why Bonds hits for average so well - and, in fact, won a batting title).

If the accusations made in the book were common knowledge, Bonds would have a perjury charge over his head - now.

Additionall, if these accusations were true, then the authors hid evidence from a federal investigation, and should themselves, along with Bonds, be jailed.

Blogger D-Wil -- 3/08/2006 10:26 AM  

"Is the evidence in the SI excerpts any more damning than LA Confidential, the Lance Armstrong expose? If not, then why isn't Armstrong, who tested positive for a cortoid at the Tour de France in 1999, being "thrown under the bus" as is Bonds?

Oh, I forgot, Armstrong is white."

I don't think "thrown under the bus" is accurate. Bonds is not being made a scapegoat here. McGwire, Sosa, and Palmiero all received an incredible amount of flak for their (alleged) steroid use. But since they are retired and have slunk into the shadows, while Bonds is still in the game (and is vehement in his denials), it is only natural that people will focus on him. There is also the fact that he is poised to make a run at a record once thought unbreakable (Aaron).

As for Bonds versus Armstrong, that's apples and oranges. Different people, different sports, different circumstances. I'm also willing to bet the fact that Bonds is a notorious ass (remember Sheffield recounting their interactions?) as opposed to Armstrong whose name is synonomous with fighting cancer might have something to do with it. That, or race. One or the other.

Blogger RPS -- 3/08/2006 11:01 AM  

Satchmo, we already know how he's going to react...he'll attack the media and whine about how everyone is against him (waaaahhhhhhh)

Blogger CrazyRay -- 3/08/2006 5:20 PM  

Satchmo - You state that "The authors have also posted a list of their sources on SI,". Please provide a link. I cannot seem to find it.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 3/08/2006 6:36 PM  

I shoud have been more clear - in the article "The Documentation," the authors claim to have reviewed numerous legal records, interviews, tapes, etc.

In retrospect, I want to take a look at the book because they claim to reveal more sources in the book. I'd like to see direct quotes and names.

They say that "The names of many of our sources appear in the text or in the extensive chapter notes included in Game of Shadows. Some sources requested anonymity to avoid interfering with the federal BALCO investigation and a related grand jury probe that continued into '05. Some additional information about sources who requested anonymity appears in the chapter notes."

To what extent anonymity will cast doubt on their research I don't know, but I would hope that with what they claim to have, they don't obscure all their sources. It would clearly hurt their statements with all the scrutiny being placed upon them.

But it does appear that they did their research for this book. One does have to wonder how they obtained some of their research, especially the sealed grand jury testimonies and confidential memorandums.

Blogger Satchmo -- 3/08/2006 8:28 PM  

I've heard a lot of people say that the steroids Bonds allegedly took were not banned by MLB. Is that true? If so, does that mean that he is not a cheater?

Blogger mbpottz -- 3/09/2006 12:08 AM  

Another interesting athlete to compare Bonds to is Roger Clemens. Both has impressive careers until they reached their late thirties, but what they accomplished in their late 30's and early 40's is amazing. They are career years. That is unherd of in sports. And they did not just have both one great year. Should we look at Clemens? Or what should we look at?

Anonymous tommie -- 3/09/2006 12:27 PM  

The Documentation is a pretty weak citation of sources. It consists of disputed statements made to a single federal agent, statements from an ex-girlfriend, and hearsay. The authors actually try to use Anderson's denial of giving drugs to Bonds as evidence that he did.The convuloted arguments offered in the section "Circumstantial Evidence" are embarassing. A close reading of The Documentation hurts the authors' credibility.

But that calendar is troublesome. If they are able to develop this better in the book, Mr. Bonds may be "convicted" even by my standards

Anonymous JPSobel -- 3/09/2006 5:07 PM  

MLB did not have a specific rule banning the use of steroids and PEDs until September 2002. So, unless Mr. Bonds was juicing in 2003, which the book alleges, he was not in violation of MLB rules.

Further, if the cream and the clear were the only PEDs he used, Mr.Bonds did not break the law. These drugs were banned in the Steroid Control Act of 2004 which was signed in October 2004 and went into effect in early 2005.

Anonymous JPSobel -- 3/09/2006 5:14 PM  

My thanks to those who have commented to this post. The comments are outstanding, and I hope people take the time to read them.

Blogger Michael McCann -- 3/10/2006 12:14 AM  

I stated in an earlier post that the clear and the cream were not illegal until 2005. I need to correct this statement.

The clear is the designer steroid THG. It was banned by the Anabolic Steroid Act of 2004 which went into effect on 20 January 2005. The FDA had issued a statement declaring THG to be an unapproved new drug on 28 October 2003: an action which prohibited the manufacture, distribution, and marketing (but apparently not the use or possession) of the drug.

The cream is a designer cocktail of testosterone and epitestosterone; two
steroids which were illegal under the Controlled Substances Act dating back to at least 1990. Until reading the Washington Post article, I had been under the impression that the cream was just another variation of THG. Use of these steroids without a prescription would have been illegal in the time frame of interest.

Anonymous JPSobel -- 3/10/2006 6:51 AM  

JPSobel - you're right about The Documentation - the second time I read it, I realized how little they were actually saying.

The book really does need to give names and sources, otherwise readers will be forced to bundle the book with other Bonds accustations. They say they have hundreds of interviews with many different people, but we really need to know who those people were.

Blogger Satchmo -- 3/10/2006 1:24 PM  

mbpottz...steroids are illegal, there's no such thing as a "legal steroid". If he was caught with steroids or marijuana/etc. he would be in posession of drugs all the same.

Blogger CrazyRay -- 3/10/2006 4:43 PM  

Well, there are legal steroids - they're perscribed by doctors.

However, there's no way Bonds would get a perscription for anything he allegedly took, especially things like Clomid and HGH.

Blogger Satchmo -- 3/10/2006 5:11 PM  

I believe Barry Bonds should walk away from the game right now. If he doesn't, he's going to drag baseball down with him. If he eclipses Hank Aaron's record of 755 HR's, MLB will be forced to open an investigation about his possible steroid use. This would hurt the game tremendously and MLB wouldn't be able to stop there, it'd have to investigate all other current possible users further. My advice to Bonds is to retire now so that Bud Selig won't be able to investigate him and to prevent further controversy about the integrity of the game.

Anonymous Steve -- 3/27/2006 3:38 PM  

I think that there are two ways to look at this. First, taking steriods doesn't make someone a better baseball player and regardless of whether Bonds took steroids or not, he still did hit all of those homeruns and put up all the big stats. However, the thing that makes this case suspicious is that Bonds' outburst of homeruns came in 1999 when he was 34 and has been continuing till now, something that is very rare for older baseball players to accomplish, especially when you look at pictures of him earlier in his career and compare them to his physique over the last six seasons, which causes even more suspicion. All in all, his numbers prior to the 1999 season when he supposedly starting juicing are Hall of Fame worthy, but if the allegations are true and he breaks the homerun record, something should be done about it since he would have cheated.

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