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The Truth About Barry Bonds and Steroids
Mark Fainaru-Wada
March 13, 2006
ON MAY 22, 1998, the San Francisco Giants arrived in St. Louis for a three-game series with the Cardinals. That weekend, Giants All-Star leftfielder Barry Bonds got a firsthand look at the frenzied excitement surrounding Mark McGwire, baseball's emerging Home Run King. � Bonds had recently remarried, but on this trip he was accompanied by his girlfriend, Kimberly Bell, a slender, attractive woman with long brown hair and brown eyes whom he had met four years earlier in the players' parking lot at Candlestick Park. Bell had been looking forward to the trip, and it was pleasant in many ways--a big hotel room with a view of St. Louis's famous arch; a wonderful seat eight rows behind home plate; and even tornado warnings, which were exotic to a California girl. But Bonds was sulky and brooding. A three-time National League MVP, he was one of the most prideful stars in baseball. All that weekend, though, he was overshadowed by McGwire.
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March 13, 2006

The Truth About Barry Bonds And Steroids

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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.

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