Anderson said he had been working with professional athletes since about 1997. His baseball clients included Barry Bonds. At first he said he provided steroids only to bodybuilders but then admitted he supplied them to other athletes as well. He didn't want to name names.
As the interview continued, Anderson admitted that he gave the ballplayers testosterone and human growth hormone, often sending the drugs via Federal Express. He acknowledged that after baseball began testing for steroids, he gave players the Cream and the Clear obtained from BALCO. He paid for the drugs with cash.
Anderson didn't want to talk about Bonds. When pressed, he claimed the Home Run King never took the Clear or the Cream. But by then the other agents had discovered file folders with the names of baseball players on their covers. Just like the ones at Conte's storage locker, the folders contained calendars detailing the players' drug use -- amounts, quantities, intervals. There was a folder for Bonds, and the agents asked Anderson about it. That was the end of the interview.
While the raid was under way, an athlete who knew that Anderson had computerized his doping calendars was frantically trying to get in touch with Bonds. They're raiding Victor, the athlete said in a phone message that was left on an answering machine. Tell Barry he better get Greg to dump all that stuff off his computer.
At 10:56 on the morning of Dec. 4, 2003, Bonds arrived at the Phillip Burton Federal Building in San Francisco for his date with the grand jury. A little past 1:00, he was sworn in, and then prosecutor Jeff Nedrow described Bonds's immunity agreement: Nothing Bonds said before the grand jury could be used to prosecute him for any crime, as long as he told the truth. But the immunity didn't extend to perjury, Nedrow emphasized.
The session began innocently enough, with Bonds describing his long association with Greg Anderson. Briefly, he told how Anderson had introduced him to BALCO.
Soon, though, Nedrow and his veteran boss, Ross Nadel, began to show Bonds page after page of documents that implicated him in the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. There were doping calendars that detailed specific drugs to take on specific days. Ledger pages that logged testosterone levels in his body at various points. Documents from steroid tests completed on samples of his blood and urine. The prosecutors peppered him with questions, beginning first with the Cream and the Clear. Bonds's answers meandered, but he admitted nothing, yielding virtually no ground on his long-standing claim that his tremendous sports achievements had been all natural, the product of hard work and God-given talent.
"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.'"
Bonds was shown a vial that the government believed had contained the Clear. Bonds insisted it was for flaxseed oil. He said he had ingested the substance by placing a couple of drops under his tongue -- the prescribed method for taking the BALCO steroid but hardly the common way to down flaxseed oil.
"And I was like, to me, it didn't even work," he told the grand jury. "You know me, I'm 39 years old. I'm dealing with pain. All I want is the pain relief, you know? ... I never asked Greg. When he said it was flaxseed oil, I just said, 'Whatever.' It was in the ballpark ... in front of everybody. I mean, all the reporters, my teammates. I mean, they all saw it. I didn't hide it ... . You know, trainers come up to me and say, 'Hey, Barry, try this.'"
Bonds's approach was obvious: He didn't know what he put in his body, he simply ingested whatever substance his trainer gave him. If his trainer told him it was flaxseed oil and arthritis cream, then that's what it was. To people who knew Bonds's meticulous and controlling nature, the claim was absurd, but the prosecutors didn't pursue the point.
Instead, they began quizzing Bonds about doping calendars and documents showing the results of blood and urine tests, all pulled from folders marked with Bonds's name or initials.
Did the notations for "Growth" and "G" mean Bonds had been taking the anabolic substance human growth hormone?
"I don't know what G is," he replied. He had never injected himself with drugs, he declared. He knew nothing about paperwork showing the results of steroid screens run on his blood. Questions about a document reflecting the purchase of growth hormone -- "!G! one box off-season and two box season $1,500," the note read -- prompted a nonresponsive answer.
"Greg and I are friends," Bonds said. "I never paid Greg for anything. I gave Greg money for his training me.... You're going to bring up documents and more documents. I have never seen anything written by Greg Anderson on a piece of paper."
Nadel showed Bonds a bottle and asked about a calendar notation that referred to the steroid depotestosterone.
"I have never, ever seen this bottle or any bottle pertaining that says depotestosterone," Bonds said.
"It's an injectable steroid, right?"
Bonds denied using it, then began rambling again: "Greg is a good guy, you know, this kid is a great kid. He has a child."
What about Clomiphene (also known as Clomid), an anti-estrogen drug employed by steroid users when coming off a cycle?
"I've never heard of it."
Erythropoietin, a.k.a. EPO, an endurance-boosting drug?
"I couldn't even pronounce it."
Modafinil, a stimulant?
"I've never heard of it."
Of the substances Anderson provided, Bonds said, "If it's a steroid, it's not working."
The prosecutors also quizzed Bonds about a calendar entry that said, "Barry 12-2-02 T, 1CC G -- pee." Did that reflect events on Dec. 2, 2002, when Bonds used testosterone and growth hormone and then gave a urine sample to Anderson for a private drug test?
"T could mean anything," Bonds replied. "G could mean anything. And pee could probably mean anything."
He couldn't explain a medical report describing his testosterone levels -- "I wouldn't even understand it anyway, so they wouldn't talk to me about that," he said -- nor calendar entries kept by Anderson that reflected his use of steroids and Clomid.
"I've never had a calendar with him, never had anything," Bonds said.
"Did Greg ever give you insulin?"
"Insulin? I'm not a diabetic."
Bonds said he had paid Anderson $15,000 for supervising his weight training. "I paid him in cash," he testified. "I make 17 million."
At the end of the more than three-hour session, the grand jurors were given a chance to question the superstar. "With all the money you make, have you ever considered building a mansion" for Anderson, a grand juror asked.
"One, I'm black," Bonds replied. "And I'm keeping my money. And there's not too many rich black people in this world. There's more wealthy Asian people and Caucasian and white. And I ain't giving my money up."
With that, they were done. Nedrow seemed pleased. It had been a slow process, but the prosecutor understood why it had taken so long: When you know what a witness knows, and they won't tell you what you know they know, it takes more time.
Bonds, too, seemed to think that the session had gone well: He left the room confident that he had asserted control over the government's inquiry, just as he controlled his baseball team and, for that matter, most of the people in his life. His reputation had been preserved and his well-guarded secret had not been revealed.
But as the government would learn, Bonds and his inner circle hadn't been so discreet about his use of performance-enhancing drugs. By the time Bonds was subpoenaed before the BALCO grand jury, more than a dozen people either had been told directly that he was using banned drugs, had seen him using the drugs with their own eyes, or had been provided with information that made the conclusion he was doping inescapable.
On Oct. 26, 2005, the White Sox completed a World Series sweep of the Houston Astros, clinching Chicago's first championship since 1917. More than the end of an 88-year drought, the moment marked the exorcism of baseball's worst demon: the Black Sox scandal of 1919.
But there was a new scandal that posed an ongoing threat to the game. By last fall it was apparent to the general public that a great many players, including some of the major leagues' biggest stars, had been using steroids and other illegal drugs for years. Public opinion was divided about BALCO. Polls showed that the majority of fans considered baseball's steroid problem serious and wanted the cheaters punished. But those who were cynical about the game believed that BALCO was merely typical of a society driven to enhance its performance and appearance.
With the publication of Game of Shadows on March 27, however, it will be harder for even the most jaded fan to shrug off the use of drugs in sports. In addition to the revelations included here about Barry Bonds, the book examines, in startling detail, the systematic use of a wide array of illegal drugs by other major leaguers, NFL players and track and field athletes who, like Bonds, were performing at the very highest levels of their sport.
Yet even as Game of Shadows challenges our fond assumptions about the purity of competition, the BALCO probe moves into its fourth year and the 41-year-old Bonds prepares for his 21st season in the big leagues. Bad knee willing, he will begin the season needing only seven home runs to pass Babe Ruth for second on the alltime list. Then, he will need 41 more to surpass Hank Aaron. And in San Francisco, they were preparing to celebrate the Home Run King. Issue date: March 13, 2006