Greg Anderson started Barry Bonds on Winstrol after the 1998 season. It was also known as Stanozolol, the old favorite of body builders, infamous as the drug that brought down Ben Johnson. Anderson provided the steroids and syringes and injected Bonds's backside, although Bonds eventually learned how to inject himself. Anderson began keeping calendars to track Bonds's drug cycle: If a user didn't come off steroids periodically, his body would lose the ability to produce testosterone naturally. Anderson held the unused drugs. There was to be no stash at Bonds's house or in his locker.
Aside from such side effects as acne, baldness, shrinking of the testes, mood swings, surges of anger, reduction of libido and the risk of liver damage and prostate cancer, Winstrol's drawback was that it took months to clear the user's system. No athlete subject to drug testing dared use Winstrol because the likelihood of getting caught was so great. But of course that wasn't an issue for Bonds as the 1999 season approached; baseball was still years away from confronting its steroid problem.
Bonds worked harder in the gym during the 1998 off-season than he had in years. Wearing black gloves, pants and a sleeveless T, he showed up at World Gym day after day, Anderson at his side. The trainer talked quietly to his famous client or just sat and stared as Bonds went through the monotonous routine of pumping iron. Marvelously the Winstrol eliminated the pain and fatigue of training. And the results were equally marvelous to behold.
For the first time in his life, Bonds was buff. He often stood in front of a mirror, laughing, saying, "How do I look?" By spring training, his weight had increased from around 210 to 225, and almost all of the gain was rock-hard muscle. When he showed up a day late at the Giants' spring training camp in Scottsdale, Ariz., in 1999, angry at the club for refusing to renegotiate his contract, the change in Bonds's physique was startling. Around the Giants, they took to referring to Bonds as "the Incredible Hulk." When Bonds took batting practice, he was driving the ball farther than he ever had before. To teammates, writers and fans in Scottsdale that spring, and especially to Giants management, Bonds's appearance and performance raised a fundamental question: What in hell had he been doing in the off-season?
Sportswriters didn't press the question. Most attributed the changes in Bonds's body to a heavy workout regimen, as though a 34-year-old man could gain 15 pounds of muscle in 100 days without drugs. The Giants, from owner Peter Magowan to manager Dusty Baker, had no interest in learning whether Bonds was using steroids, either. 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.
Bonds and Anderson could see the difference the steroids made as soon as the season got under way. In 12 games Bonds, who had often started slowly, batted .366 with four home runs, six doubles and 12 RBIs. But then, because of his drug use, he blew out his left elbow and nearly ruined his career.
An MRI indicated a bone chip. But there was worse news when the elbow was examined by Bonds's personal physician, Arthur Ting, an orthopedic surgeon who treated many sports stars. Ting diagnosed a torn triceps tendon, requiring immediate surgery. Anderson and Bonds figured out that the steroids had allowed Bonds to put on muscle too quickly.
Later, while visiting Bell's apartment in Mountain View, Bonds told her that most ballplayers were now using steroids, and he had begun using the drugs so he could recover more quickly from minor injuries. But steroids also were to blame for the elbow injury because they had made his arm muscles so large that the elbow tendon could not support them. "It makes me grow faster, but if you're not careful, you can blow it out," he told her. Bonds said he would be more cautious in the future. He also implied he was only using oral steroids, saying he wasn't "like those bodybuilders who are injecting themselves."