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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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Bonds's new workout partner called himself the Weight Guru, and he had a sophisticated approach to training. He prescribed specific, intense workouts for individual muscle groups, and he tailored the program for baseball to maximize hitting power while maintaining agility. He could talk about nutrition and blood tests and body-fat percentages with such authority that you might mistake him for a doctor.

Not incidentally, the Weight Guru was a longtime steroid user and dealer. He had expertise with drugs ranging from old reliables like Deca-Durabolin and Winstrol to more exotic substances like human growth hormone. The drugs could quicken recovery after workouts, build stamina, add muscle. They could eliminate that slump in August, when the minor injuries and fatigue of the long season would otherwise wear a ballplayer down. Beyond that, for a player with the natural ability of Bonds, the sky was the limit as far as what the drugs might do. The Weight Guru told Bonds all of this, and Bonds decided to go for it. The Weight Guru's name was Greg Anderson.

Anderson was an unlikely agent for the transformation of Barry Bonds into the greatest hitter who ever lived: A muscular, spike-haired man, Anderson was at once unknown, unlucky and financially strapped. In 1998 he was working as a personal trainer at the World Gym in Burlingame, a place where the gym rats sold steroids out of the trunks of their cars. Anderson wore a long-sleeved sweatshirt that covered his heavily tattooed arms and concealed just how much muscle he had packed onto his 5'10", 225-pound frame.

Like Bonds, Anderson grew up on the San Francisco peninsula, in San Carlos. As a shortstop at Fort Hays State University, in Kansas, Anderson had begun using steroids to boost his weight training. Over time he had become extraordinarily knowledgeable about performance-enhancing drugs, as a secret recording made years later would prove. An old friend from San Mateo hooked Anderson up with Bonds. Anderson offered to put together a baseball-oriented strength program for him. He would tend to Bonds's weight training and nutritional needs. Bonds agreed, and before the 1999 season began, Anderson was hired to supervise Bonds's strength conditioning.

Anderson felt he had stumbled into an awesome job. Just when his connection to baseball had withered down to doing group workouts with high school kids, he suddenly found himself near the center of the game at its highest level. Every year Anderson got a trip to spring training. When the Giants moved into their new ballpark in 2000, Bonds gave him the run of the clubhouse. He met many Giants players and eventually would supply some of them with steroids.

But the most amazing part of it was his association with Bonds and his opportunity to play an important role in molding him into the greatest player who ever lived. Bonds was dedicated to the program. He was eager to push the workouts, demanding more weight, more repetitions, more sets, and he also showed interest in the nutritional aspects of the training. Anderson kept track of the workouts. It was a gratifying job, but there were downsides. People believed that anyone doing important work for a multimillionaire ballplayer was well paid, but that wasn't the case. Bonds had his people give Anderson $10,000 in cash from time to time, but the payments were erratic, and he didn't earn nearly enough to give up his other clients, let alone buy a condominium in the overheated Bay Area housing market.

Anderson didn't like to talk about another downside. Anyone who worked for Bonds had to take a great deal of abuse. If Bonds told you to do something, you had to drop everything and do it. If you were slow to comply or if you tried to explain why it wasn't such a good idea, Bonds would get right up in your face, snarling, calling you a "punk bitch," repeating what he wanted and saying, "Did I f------ stutter?" You had to suck it up and take the abuse and the humiliation--everyone did.

Of course Anderson's primary job, and the real reason he was hired, was to provide Bonds with performance-enhancing drugs and to track his regimen. Anderson obtained the drugs and administered them. In file folders, and on his computer, he kept calendars of Bonds's use of the substances, recording the drugs, dosages and cycles.

But Anderson didn't think of himself as Bonds's drug dealer. When Bonds paid him, he liked to think it was for weight training. As far as supplying drugs, Anderson thought of his role as "middleman." In San Francisco he knew AIDS patients who had prescriptions for testosterone and human growth hormone and were willing to sell their drugs for cash. Anderson bought and resold them virtually at cost to clients who wanted them for their anabolic effects. Likewise, Anderson knew many sources of conventional bodybuilders' steroids like Deca-Durabolin and Winstrol. He resold those at almost no markup as well. Bonds was keenly interested in performance-enhancing drugs. He asked their pharmaceutical names and then sought, through third parties, medical advice about the drugs. The medical advice was negative. You shouldn't take the drugs, he was told, but Anderson said those concerns were overblown, and Bonds ignored the advice he had sought.

Certainly the program Anderson devised worked. In the years after he linked up with Anderson, Bonds completely remade his body, and the results of Anderson's drug regime are now reflected in the record books. At an age when his father's baseball skills had begun to erode badly, Bonds's drug use would make him a better hitter than he had been at any time in his career--and, perhaps, the best hitter of all time.

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