SI Vault
August 03, 1998
Drug Scandal Is Everybody Doing It?
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August 03, 1998


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It's hard to talk baseball these days without having words like McGwire, Griffey, homer and Yankee dominate the conversation. But don't let the hubbub surrounding the Maris chase and the other record onslaughts obscure the real Man of the '90s: Barry Bonds. The Giants outfielder isn't having his strongest statistical season (.275, 20 home runs, 68 RBIs through Sunday), but he still looms large as the decade's most productive player. Here's how Bonds rates. (Categories list the top five this decade.)

Home Runs




Ken Griffey Jr. 318

Bonds 939

Bonds 948

Bonds 1,029

Mark McGwire 314

Fielder 922

Craig Biggio 877

Thomas 947

Bonds 310

Belle 921

Thomas 850

Phillips 864

Albert Belle 296

Frank Thomas 918

Griffey 848

Bickey Henderson 854

Cecil Fielder 287

Griffey 902

Tony Phillips 842

McGwire 765

Drug Scandal
Is Everybody Doing It?

When Tour de France cyclists sat defiantly beside their bikes last Friday, delaying the start of stage 12 by two hours, they were protesting the media's and police investigators' intense preoccupation with the Tour's ever-deepening drug crisis. The strike simply drew more attention to the drug woes and underscored what dire shape their sport's premier event is in. "You look forward your whole life to wearing the yellow jersey, and now you can't even enjoy it," said race leader Jan Ullrich last Saturday. "All anybody talks about is doping."

With one team, Festina, expelled for using performance-enhancing drugs; another, TVM, under investigation; and a third, Asics, circumstantially linked to drugs, the Tour, in the words of French sports minister Marie-George Buffet, "is gravely Ill." Many riders and five of the 20 team directors supported cancellation of the race. The public-is even more turned off: In a poll conducted by France-Soir, 39% of the respondents said that this year's race should be shut down.

Most disturbing is that the long-suspected drug use, as uncovered by zealous investigators and a muckraking press, apparently is not only tolerated but also often encouraged by team officials. Festina was booted after its director, Bruno Roussel, told investigators that his riders regularly took the hormone erythropoietin (EPO) under the team's direction, an allegation confirmed by five of the team's nine cyclists. "I'm just the victim of a system," said Festina cyclist Armin Meir, who later added: "I would not be surprised if more than 100 riders are suspended."

Even as the Festina situation unfolded, TVM, a Dutch team, saw its director, Cees Priem, and doctor, Andrei Mikhailov, hauled into police custody. Prosecutor Phillipe Laumosne said that "doping products and masking products" had been found in the hotel rooms of TVM cyclists and on Monday, Priem and Mikhailov were taken from jail to face a magistrate. Also last week, in the event that caused the indignant riders to strike, a French TV crew sifted through garbage bins and uncovered empty drug containers apparently inscribed with the initials of various Asics team members. Such guerrilla tactics may be what it takes to uncover drug use, because many illicit substances are easily masked. (EPO, an endurance-enhancing agent and the drug of choice among cyclists, cannot be detected in tests.)

Riders, doctors and team directors have agreed to meet after the season ends in October to discuss methods for combating drug use. "It would not have been wise to meet during [this] crisis," says Daniel Baal of the French Cycling Federation. But the sooner the better. This year's Tour has been irrevocably tarnished, and the fact that EPO is believed to have caused the deaths of some two dozen professional and amateur cyclists this decade should remind officials that there is even more than the luster of a great race at stake.

Packers Tickets
True Capitalist Spirit

Last summer fans would come to the Green Bay Packers' training camp in DePere, Wis., at dawn and wait hours for access to informal autograph sessions. Naturally, among the wide-eyed youngsters mingled slit-eyed hustlers, who stocked up on free autographs that they would later sell. Because those same profiteers showed up day after day, the Packers this season are handing out a limited number of tickets to their practices and attempting to make sure most go to children and families.

That hasn't stopped the scamming, though. The sharks are getting their share of tickets—in some cases swiping them out of kids' hands—and they're scalping the ducats for $30 apiece.

Albert Belle's Gambling
Going Easy on The Big Man

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