Book alleges extensive use of drugs by slugger Bonds

March 08, 2006|By DAN CONNOLLY | DAN CONNOLLY,SUN REPORTER

Orlando, Fla. -- While San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds prepares for what could be his final season in baseball, excerpts from a soon-to-be-released book offer more detailed allegations that the slugger used myriad illegal performance-enhancing drugs to further his already impressive career.

Game of Shadows, a book written by two San Francisco Chronicle reporters, provides in detail the specific drug regimen that Bonds allegedly started in late 1998 and continued for five seasons after watching enviously as Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa engaged in a nation-capturing home run race.

In its March 13 issue, Sports Illustrated prints excerpts of the book, written by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, who led the Chronicle's investigation into the BALCO steroids scandal. The book alleges Bonds used numerous performance-enhancing drugs, including steroids and human growth hormone.

The House Government Reform Committee, which held hearings a year ago into steroid use in baseball, wouldn't comment yesterday on whether it would consider holding a hearing on Bonds. But its top-ranking Democrat, Henry A. Waxman of California, called on baseball to act.

"This new information is deeply disturbing and, if true, devastating. This goes to the core of the game's integrity," Waxman said. "The commissioner's office must conduct a responsible and comprehensive investigation and get to the bottom of this just as it did with the Pete Rose scandal."

Bonds, who with 708 career homers is just seven away from passing Babe Ruth for second all-time and 48 away from eclipsing Hank Aaron's record, first used the injectable steroid Winstrol in the 1998 offseason, according to the book. Also known as Stanozolol, it's the same drug that caused former Oriole Rafael Palmeiro to fail a drug test and be suspended for 10 days last season.

When asked about Game of Shadows while at Giants camp in Scottsdale, Ariz., yesterday, Bonds told reporters: "I won't even look at [the book]. For what? I won't even look at it. There's no need to."

The book says that after Bonds used Winstrol, the then-34-year-old put on 15 pounds of muscle before the next spring, saying his new physique was a product of a refined workout program. Three seasons later, in 2001, he hit 73 homers and shattered McGwire's single-season record of 70.

Bonds averaged one home run every 16.1 at-bats before the start of the alleged drug use, but since then has averaged one homer every 8.5 at-bats, the book points out.

Major League Baseball didn't test for performance-enhancing drugs until 2005.

According to the new book, Bonds eventually moved onto Deca-Durbolin, another injectable steroid used by bodybuilders, Human Growth Hormone (HGH), which is known for its anti-aging capabilities, and the infamous cream and clear topical steroids, which he previously told a grand jury that he had used inadvertently.

The book's authors conducted more than 200 interviews during a two-year investigation that also included grand jury testimony, other court documents and confidential reports made by federal agents. In addition, the book paints Bonds as an adulterer who had a volatile and violent relationship with his former mistress.

Game of Shadows will be released March 27 by Gotham Books.

Although Bonds is among baseball's biggest stars linked to the steroid controversy, he was given a pass last March when the House Government Reform Committee subpoenaed several players to testify, including McGwire, Sosa, Palmeiro and Jose Canseco, whose book about steroid use in baseball helped trigger the congressional hearing.

The release of the excerpts comes on the same day as the opening of the World Baseball Classic in Orlando, Phoenix and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Although Bonds backed out of the tournament while he continues to recover from a knee injury, participants in the 16-team, international tournament were asked about the Giants slugger during post-game interviews.

"I just heard that, and I don't really know what is going on," said Dominican Republic and Los Angeles Angels infielder Edgardo Alfonzo, who spent the last three seasons as Bonds' teammate in San Francisco. "It sort of surprised me, too. I don't know about the book and what happened."

Alfonzo said he was curious to read the new reports, but added: "No matter what, if he used or not, he is a great player. He is the guy you want to come to the stadium and watch play."

Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada, who was thrown into the steroid controversy when Palmeiro alleged that his failed drug test was caused by a tainted B-12 supplement supplied by Tejada, refused to comment on Bonds or steroids yesterday.

"For me, everything like that is in the past," said Tejada. "I don't read anything about Barry Bonds, I don't hear anything, and I don't want to talk about it."

But Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said he thinks the steroid issue will remain news for some time.

"I don't think it is going to go away, right away anyway," said Perlozzo while in Fort Myers, Fla., with his team. "We've got major testing going on this year and if there is somebody that gets caught, it's going to be out there. I think it's going to take a year of nobody doing anything for the thing to really go away, all away."

And Dr. Charles Yesalis, a Penn State University epidemiologist and outspoken steroid opponent, said he hopes Game of Shadows will be another important step in spreading the truth about steroid use in sports.

"I think if this book is really done to the quality I think it is, it will help," Yesalis said. "I think if we continue to deny this problem exists, we don't have a prayer of dealing with this."

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

Sun reporters Jeff Zrebiec, Jeff Barker and Childs Walker, the Associated Press and SI.com contributed to this article.

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