Are Readers Tired Of Sports Doping Books?

The new tell-all steroids book Bases Loaded went on sale this week. In it, former Major League Baseball clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski says he spent a decade selling banned performance-enhancing drugs to nearly 300 big leaguers. Book sellers aren't stocking a lot of the books; they say readers are tired of sports doping stories.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

The latest tell-all sports doping book went on sale this week. It's called "Bases Loaded," and it's by a real insider, a man who was once a Major League Baseball clubhouse attendant. Kirk Radomski says he spent a decade selling banned performance-enhancing drugs to nearly 300 big leaguers. One of them, he says, was all star David Justice, who's now retired. This week on ESPN Radio, Justice says Radomski is not telling the truth.

(Soundbite from ESPN Radio)

Mr. DAVID JUSTICE (Former Major League Baseball Player): The only reason I can think of is because he's pissed off that I called him out for the fraud and the liar that he is. And also, he's selling a book.

MONTAGNE: Kirk Radomski may be selling the latest book on doping, but the question is, who's going to buy? NPR's Tom Goldman reports.

TOM GOLDMAN: You'd figure Frank Sanchez would be licking his chops. Sanchez is the head buyer at Kepler's Books. The half-century-old independent bookstore is located in the San Francisco Bay area, which happens to be the epicenter of the Balco doping scandal. The 2006 book, "Game of Shadows" about Balco, sold big at Kepler's. Now three years later, I ask Frank Sanchez how he's preparing for the latest doping saga, Kirk Radomski's "Bases Loaded."

Mr. FRANK SANCHEZ (Head Buyer, Kepler's Books and Magazines): Not in a big quantity, couple of copies. You know, so…

GOLDMAN: You actually mean that, just two?

Mr. SANCHEZ: Oh, you know, I just mean a handful. Oh, people have just kind of thrown up their hands about the whole subject, and I really don't see people shelling out, you know, $24.95 for a book.

GOLDMAN: At least Radomski has a book. Last week, the estranged brother of former homerun champion Mark McGwire alleged that he turned brother Mark onto steroids and wanted to tell the story, but couldn't find a publisher. Gotham Books, which published "Game of Shadows," wasn't interested, partly because the company felt readers may be tired of McGwire's story. Four years after McGwire famously clammed up in front of Congress…

(Soundbite of Congressional hearing)

Mr. MARK MCGWIRE (Former Major League Baseball Player): I'm not here to talk about the past.

GOLDMAN: …when asked if he used steroids. Now, it's not just the book world that's witnessing doping fatigue in the public.

Dr. GARY WADLER (Internist; Author, "Drugs and the Athlete"; World Anti-Doping Agency): People were saying, all right, well just give me back my sports. Give me back my box scores, give me back the competition, give me back what sports is all about. And I don't want to hear about this anymore.

GOLDMAN: Anti-doping expert Dr. Gary Wadler has been dreading this phenomenon of doping fatigue for years. It not only means people are buying fewer books, but also ignoring what Wadler says are significant news stories. Like the one earlier this month that revealed 106 major league players, nearly eight percent were given medical exemptions last season so they could use banned stimulants to treat attention deficit disorder.

Dr. WADLER: Eight percent of major league baseball players seems to be so off the radar screen of probability. And all of this barely caught the attention for a millisecond of the general public.

GOLDMAN: Some simply are tired of the drug issue, says Wadler. Some believe there's been enough progress in combating the problem. And some appear to be following their leader. Right before last year's election, presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama were asked on ESPN's "Monday Night Football," if you could change one thing in sports, what would it be? Here's Senator McCain.

(Soundbite of ESPN's "Monday Night Football")

Senator JOHN MCCAIN (Republican, Arizona): I'd take significant action to prevent the spread and use of performance-enhancing substances.

GOLDMAN: But here's the man who won.

(Soundbite of ESPN's "Monday Night Football")

President BARACK OBAMA : I think it is about time that we had playoffs in college football.

GOLDMAN: Of course, the public's pulse may quicken again this spring, if a highly publicized steroids case against baseball star Barry Bonds goes to trial. Remember Barry Bonds? Tom Goldman, NPR News. ..COST: $00.00

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