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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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In secret, Conte had offered Bonds a new array of performance-enhancing drugs, along with more expertise than Anderson could provide. Anderson knew steroids, but his knowledge was from the inject-and-grow school. Conte's drug cocktails were designed not only to be undetectable but also to address an athlete's specific needs. Conte's real blood and urine-testing program--not the trace-element workup that Anderson had so solemnly described to the Times--was designed to ensure that the drugs were working as intended and to ensure that they would not be detected on a steroid test. Bonds underwent one such screening on Nov. 18, 2000, according to BALCO documents. Quest Diagnostics (the medical concern that was later hired to do Major League Baseball's drug tests) ran an anabolic steroid panel on Bonds. After the 2001 season, on Nov. 12, LabOne, another drug-testing lab, did another workup on Bonds's testosterone levels. (LabOne reported a level of 11.2, which was considered abnormally high for a man of Bonds's age.) There was no reason to perform the tests unless Bonds was using steroids.

In addition to growth hormone and testosterone, doping calendars showed that Bonds used insulin along with steroids; the drug's anabolic effect was significant, especially when used in conjunction with growth hormone. He also popped Mexican beans, fast-acting steroids thought to clear the user's system within a few days. The label of the container read, "Andriol. Undecanoato de testosterone"--in English: testosterone decanoate. Early in the 2001 season, the calendars indicated Bonds tried trenbolone, a steroid created to improve the muscle quality of beef cattle. Within the year it would be the chemical foundation for a new formulation of the Clear, the undetectable steroid Conte obtained from an Illinois chemist, Patrick Arnold.

Bonds carried around what Kim Bell called his "man bag" and, with Anderson's guidance, would take as many as 20 pills at a time. Meanwhile, Bonds began asserting more control over the drug regimen. He could feel the drop of energy that came when he was cycling off the performance enhancers and was mindful of the distance of his home runs; when his power started to decline he would tell Anderson to start him on another drug cycle, according to a source familiar with Bonds. Anderson kept the calendar that tracked his cycles. If he told Bonds he didn't need a cycle, Bonds would just tell him, "F--- off, I'll do it myself."

Meanwhile, friends of Bonds's were available with positive, upbeat commentary for the avalanche of profiles that were being ordered up as he approached McGwire's record. The friends' talking points addressed Bonds's reputation for boorish behavior. Some contended that Bonds was misunderstood and had never been a jerk in the first place. Others acknowledged prior problems but said he had become a better person. "I think he has changed and I think, frankly, that his marriage has a lot to do with it," Magowan, the Giants' owner, told The Oakland Tribune's Josh Suchon. " ... He's got a lovely wife and lovely kids. He's a very good father."

Bonds hit his 40th home run in Seattle the day after the All-Star break. He passed Maris on Sept. 9 in Denver when he pounded Rockies pitchers for numbers 61, 62 and 63. There were still 18 games left in the season. McGwire's record fell on Oct. 5, at Pac Bell Park, and on the last day of the season Bonds hit his 73rd home run. After the game he said he wanted his trainers written into his new contract. Of Anderson and the others, Bonds told the San Jose Mercury News, "Those guys are with me for life."

Barry bonds was 38 years old in 2002 when he won his first batting title. He batted .370, hit 46 home runs and drew a ridiculous 198 walks. Once again Bonds's offensive surge was powered by performance-enhancing drugs from Anderson, who got them from BALCO and Conte. Conte and Anderson sent Bonds's blood for testosterone screening at the end of the 2001 season and ordered another round before spring training 2002. Then baseball's new Home Run King began another drug cycle, as described in the doping calendars kept by Anderson.

During a three-week cycle, Bonds was injected with human growth hormone every other day. Between injections he alternately used Conte's two undetectable steroids, the Clear and the Cream. At cycle's end, Bonds took Clomid, a drug doctors prescribe to women for infertility; Conte thought it helped his clients recover their natural ability to produce testosterone, which was suppressed by steroid use. Conte recommended a week off between cycles. Usually the drugs were administered at Bonds's home, with Anderson dropping by to inject him with Growth or to squirt the Clear under his tongue, using a syringe with no needle.

Bonds's gaudy numbers would make him an MVP once again. Even better, the Giants made it to the World Series. And, for the first time, Bonds produced in the postseason: Against the Anaheim Angels he hit .471 with four home runs and a garish on-base percentage of .700. But the Angels won the Series in seven games, and Bonds told friends that perhaps he was fated only to set individual records but never to play on a championship team.

In 2002, after Ken Caminiti confessed to Sports Illustrated that his 1996 MVP season had been steroid-powered, Major League Baseball was pressured to make steroid testing a part of the new labor agreement that was negotiated that summer. To Olympic athletes, baseball's testing policy was a joke, so weak that it could barely be called a policy at all.

Weak or not, players still feared getting caught. Bonds despised the thought of being exposed as a drug cheat. He wanted no part of the humiliation he might endure if his status as the game's premier player were called into question. But Anderson guaranteed that Bonds was protected. "The whole thing is, everything I've been doing, it's all undetectable," he would say during the spring of 2003, when he described Bonds's drug use to an acquaintance who was secretly wearing a wire. "The stuff I have, we created it. You can't buy it anywhere else, you can't get it anywhere else. You can take [it] the day of [a drug test], pee, and it comes up clear.

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