Book Accuses Bonds of Using Performance Drugs

A book written by two San Francisco Chronicle reporters says Giants slugger Barry Bonds has used an array of performance-enhancing drugs for at least five seasons, beginning in 1998. Bonds has repeatedly denied using performance-enhancing drugs and says he doesn't plan to look at an excerpt of the book in Sports Illustrated. Steve Inskeep talks to one of the book's authors, Lance Williams.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Barry Bonds, the home run record holder, faces another set of allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs. Bonds hit the most home runs in a single season and is chasing the record for the most in a career. The latest charges about Barry Bonds' doping come in a book called Game of Shadows by a pair of San Francisco Chronicle reporters. Excerpts appear in the latest issue of Sports Illustrated and one of the authors is Lance Williams, who's on the phone. Welcome to the program.

Mr. LANCE WILLIAMS (Author): Good morning.

INSKEEP: You've been writing about Barry Bonds' alleged steroid use for years. Can you give us a sense of what is new here--what you've learned?

Mr. WILLIAMS: Our book as it pertains to Bonds describes an entire trajectory of his career as a user of performance enhancing drugs. It began after the '98 baseball season after he had seen the fuss that was made over Mark McGwire when McGwire broke Maris's record.

INSKEEP: McGwire set the single season record for what at the time seemed like an awful lot of home runs--a record number of home runs, although it was soon going to be surpassed.

Mr. WILLIAMS: Yes, and at the time Bonds was what we call a five tool baseball player; a guy with speed, power, could hit for average and play good defense and he watched McGwire being praised as one of the greats of all time. Barry decided to transform himself into a home run slugger as well, anticipating that the game was changing and that the big contracts and the elite status was now going to be reserved for the players who could put up the huge home run numbers.

INSKEEP: I have to ask how you know this, because of course, Bonds has denied steroid use all along.

Mr. WILLIAMS: Yes, we've consulted many government documents from the BALCO investigation. We have supplemented that with a recording secretly made, of Bonds weight trainer in which he discusses Bonds' use of banned drugs. Then we have interviewed people on the record and we have also relied on unnamed sources. But, the evidence interlocks and there's really no other interpretation that we can come to, but that he knowingly used drugs during this period.

INSKEEP: BALCO you mentioned--that's the firm that has been associated with a number of major league baseball players in relation to doping. The final question, perhaps, is if a number of people knew about his steroid use for a number of years--people you've now got on the record--why did it take so long for Major League Baseball to find out about it and do something about it?

Mr. WILLIAMS: Baseball has not been interested in this topic. In our book we report that the Giants had no interest in confronting Bonds about suspicions of steroid use. They had even done an informal background check on his trainer, heard that his trainer was suspected of being a steroid dealer, and then gave him access to the clubhouse anyway--didn't want to confront Bonds--didn't want to confront the problem.

INSKEEP: Lance Williams is a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle and co-author of Game of Shadows. Thanks very much.

Mr. WILLIAMS: Thank you.

INSKEEP: And Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants says he will not even look at that book. This spring Bonds begins the season with 708 career home runs. That puts him within range of Babe Ruth who hit 714 and Hank Aaron who holds the record at 755.

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