NEW YORK (SI.com) -- 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, according to Game of Shadows, a book written by two San Francisco Chronicle reporters at the forefront of reporting on the BALCO steroid distribution scandal.
(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. The book's publication date is March 27.)
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.
Bonds called for the re-starting of cycles when he felt his energy and power start to drop. If Anderson told Bonds he was not due for another cycle, the authors write, Bonds would tell him, "F--- off, I'll do it myself.''
The authors compiled the information over a two-year investigation that included, but was not limited to, 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. Some of the information previously was reported by the authors in the Chronicle. Some of the information is new. For instance, in an extensive note on sourcing, the authors said memos detailing statements by BALCO owner Victor Conte, vice president James Valente and Anderson to IRS special agent Jeff Novitzky were sealed when they first consulted them, but have been unsealed since.
The preponderance of evidence is by far the most detailed and damning condemnation that Bonds, formerly a sleek five-tool player, built himself into a hulking, record-setting home run hitter at an advanced baseball age with a cornucopia of elaborate, illegally-administered chemicals. Through 1998, for instance, when he turned 34, Bonds averaged one home run every 16.1 at bats. Since then -- what the authors identify as the start of his doping regimen -- Bonds has hit home runs nearly twice as frequently (one every 8.5 at bats).
The authors describe how Bonds turned to steroids after the 1998 season because he was jealous of McGwire. Bonds hit 37 home runs in '98 -- a nice total and the fourth most of his career at that point -- but he was ignored by fans and the media who were captivated by McGwire's 70 home runs and his duel for the record with Sammy Sosa, who hit 66 that year.
According to the book, Bonds, in comments to his mistress, Kimberly Bell, often dismissed McGwire with racially-charged remarks such as, "They're just letting him do it because he's a white boy." But Bonds looked at McGwire and his hulking physique and decided he needed to dramatically increase his muscle mass to compete with him.
It was immediately after that 1998 season that Bonds hooked up with Anderson, the book said, a gym rat known to obtain steroids and growth hormone from AIDS patients in San Francisco who were legally prescribed the drugs but sold them to make money. The authors write that the San Francisco Giants, Bonds' employer, would later discover through a background check that Anderson was connected to a gym that was known as a place to score steroids and that he was rumored to be a dealer. Yet the Giants -- who didn't want to upset their superstar -- continued to allow Anderson free reign about their ballpark and inside their clubhouse.
The authors write that Anderson started Bonds on Winstrol, also known as stanozolol, the longtime favorite steroid of bodybuilders, disgraced sprinter Ben Johnson and baseball player Rafael Palmeiro. In 100 days, Bonds packed on 15 pounds of muscle, and at age 35 hit home runs at the best rate of his career, once every 10.4 at bats. But he also grew too big, too fast. He tore his triceps tendon, telling Bell that the steroids "makes me grow faster, but if you're not careful, you can blow it out."
The book said Anderson and Bonds subsequently tweaked the program, adding such drugs as the steroid Deca-Durabolin and growth hormone, which allowed Bonds to retain his energy and physique without rigorous training. Not only did the growth hormone keep him fresh, but after complaining in 1999 about difficulty tracking pitches, he noticed it improved his eyesight as well.
Bonds added more drugs after the 2000 season, when Anderson hooked up Bonds with BALCO and its founder, Conte, according to the authors. In addition to the Cream and the Clear, the steroids designed to be undetectable, Bonds took such drugs as Clomid, a women's infertility drug thought to help a steroid user recover his natural testosterone production, and Modafinil, a narcolepsy drug used as a powerful stimulant.
Whereas Anderson's drug acumen had been forged in the gym culture, Conte and his chemists brought Bonds to another level of sophistication, prescribing him elaborate cocktails of drugs designed to be even more effective and undetectable. For instance, the authors write that in 2002, when Bonds won his fifth MVP Award and had a .700 on-base percentage in the World Series, he was fueled by meticulous three-week cycles in which he injected growth hormone every other day, took the Cream and the Clear in the days in between and capped the cycle with Clomid. The cycle was followed by one week off. The authors write that Anderson usually administered the drugs to Bonds at Bonds' home, using a needle to inject the growth hormone and a syringe without a needle to squirt the Clear under his tongue.
In addition to detailing the drug usage, the excerpt portrays Bonds as a menacing boor, a tax cheat and an adulterer given to (probably because of the rampant steroid use) sexual dysfunction, hair loss and wild mood swings that included periods of rage. The authors report that Bonds gave Bell, with whom he continued his affair after his second marriage in January 1998, $80,000 in cash in 2001 from memorabilia income not reported to the IRS. Theirs was a volatile relationship. Bell retained answering machine recordings of him after he threatened to kill her, remarking that if she disappeared no one would be able to prove he even knew her.
In 2003, as their relationship completely unraveled, Bell angered Bonds by showing up late for a hotel rendezvous. According to the excerpt, Bonds put his hand around her throat, pressed her against a wall and whispered, "If you ever f-----' pull some s--- like that again I'll kill you, do you understand me?"
A few weeks later, the authors write, Bonds told Bell, "You need to disappear."
In secret grand jury testimony obtained by the authors, Bonds testified that he did not know what the substances were that Anderson gave him and he put in his body, saying at one point, "It's like, 'Whatever, dude.'" Bonds testified under a grant of immunity, though he was told the immunity did not extend to perjury.
Bonds begins this season with 708 home runs, seven short of passing Babe Ruth for second on the all-time list and 48 from surpassing Hank Aaron as the all-time leader. Three knee surgeries limited Bonds to 14 games last season, have reduced his mobility and left in question his fitness for regular duty this year.
In October, Conte was sentenced to four months in prison and four months of home confinement as part of a plea deal with prosecutors. Anderson pled guilty to money laundering and a steroid distribution charge. He was sentenced to three months in prison and three months of home confinement. Valente pled guilty to reduced charges of steroid distribution and was sentenced to probation.