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Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, Balco, and the Steroids Scandal That Rocked Professional Sportsby Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams
Synopses & Reviews
The complete inside story of the shocking steroids scandal that turned the sports world upside down.
For years, in the shadowy reaches of the world of sport, there were rumors that some of our nation?s greatest athletes were using steroids, human growth hormone, and other drugs to run faster, jump higher, and hit harder. But as track stars like Marion Jones blazed their way to Olympic medals and sluggers such as Mark McGwire brought fans back to baseball with stratospheric home runs, sports officials, the media, and fans looked past the rumors and cheered on the stars to ever-higher levels of performance. Then, in December 2004, after more than fifteen months of relentless reporting, San Francisco Chronicle reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams broke the story of the Bay Area Lab Co-operative, a tiny nutritional supplement company that according to sworn testimony was supplying elite athletes, including baseball MVP Jason Giambi, with banned drugs. The stories, exposing rampant cheating at the highest levels of athletics, shocked the nation as sports heroes were brought low and their records were tainted. The exposes led to Congressional hearings on baseball?s drug problems, and a revived effort to purge the U.S. Olympic movement of drug cheats.
Now, in Game of Shadows, Fainaru-Wada and Williams tell the complete story of BALCO and the investigation that has shaken the foundations of the sporting world. They reveal how an obscure, self-proclaimed nutritionist, Victor Conte, became a steroid svengali to multi-millionaire athletes desperate for a competitive edge, and how he created superstars with his potent cocktails of miracle drugs. They expose the international web of coaches and trainers who funneled athletes to BALCO, and how the drug cheats stayed a step ahead of the testing agencies and the law. They detail how an aggressive IRS investigator doggedly gathered evidence until Conte and his co-conspirators were brought to justice. And at the center of the story is the biggest star of them all, Barry Bonds, the muscle-bound MVP outfielder of the San Francisco Giants whose suspicious late-career renaissance has him threatening Hank Aaron?s all-time home run record.
Shocking, revelatory, and page-turning, Game of Shadows casts light into the shadows of American sport to reveal the dark truths at the heart of the game today.
"Although Game of Shadows reprises much of the information contained in the authors' San Francisco Chronicle articles...it remains necessary reading for anyone concerned with the steroids era in baseball and track and field and its fallout on sports history." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"The book has received so much news coverage already that some may think they already know enough. The news coverage, however, does not begin to capture the breadth and depth of the documentation provided by Fainaru-Wada and Williams about drug cheating." Denver Post
"There is considerable drama in the telling, and the writers have turned a complicated story into an easy read....The story of steroids has yet to fully play out, but this volume presents a well-researched summary of the scandal to date." Boston Globe
In the summer of 1998 two of baseball leading sluggers, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, embarked on a race to break Babe Ruth’s single season home run record. The nation was transfixed as Sosa went on to hit 66 home runs, and McGwire 70. Three years later, San Francisco Giants All-Star Barry Bonds surpassed McGwire by 3 home runs in the midst of what was perhaps the greatest offensive display in baseball history. Over the next three seasons, as Bonds regularly launched mammoth shots into the San Francisco Bay, baseball players across the country were hitting home runs at unprecedented rates. For years there had been rumors that perhaps some of these players owed their success to steroids. But crowd pleasing homers were big business, and sportswriters, fans, and officials alike simply turned a blind eye. Then, in December of 2004, after more than a year of investigation, San Francisco Chronicle reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams broke the story that in a federal investigation of a nutritional supplement company called BALCO, Yankees slugger Jason Giambi had admitted taking steroids. Barry Bonds was also implicated. Immediately the issue of steroids became front page news. The revelations led to Congressional hearings on baseball’s drug problems and continued to drive the effort to purge the U.S. Olympic movement of drug cheats. Now Fainaru-Wada and Williams expose for the first time the secrets of the BALCO investigation that has turned the sports world upside down.
Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroid Scandal That Rocked Professional by award- winning investigative journalists Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, is a riveting narrative about the biggest doping scandal in the history of sports, and how baseball’s home run king, Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants, came to use steroids. Drawing on more than two years of reporting, including interviews with hundreds of people, and exclusive access to secret grand jury testimony, confidential documents, audio recordings, and more, the authors provide, for the first time, a definitive account of the shocking steroids scandal that made headlines across the country.
The book traces the career of Victor Conte, founder of the BALCO laboratory, an egomaniacal former rock musician and self-proclaimed nutritionist, who set out to corrupt sports by providing athletes with “designer” steroids that would be undetectable on “state-of-the-art” doping tests. Conte gave the undetectable drugs to 28 of the world’s greatest athletes—Olympians, NFL players and baseball stars, Bonds chief among them.
A separate narrative thread details the steroids use of Bonds, an immensely talented, moody player who turned to performance-enhancing drugs after Mark McGwire of the St. Louis Cardinals set a new home run record in 1998. Through his personal trainer, Bonds gained access to BALCO drugs. All of the great athletes who visited BALCO benefited tremendously—Bonds broke McGwire’s record—but many had their careers disrupted after federal investigators raided BALCO and indicted Conte. The authors trace the course of the probe, and the baffling decision of federal prosecutors to protect the elite athletes who were involved.
Highlights of Game of Shadows include:
About the Author
Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams are investigative reporters for the San Francisco Chronicle. After fifteen months of covering steroid use in sports, in December 2004 they reported in the Chronicle on the secret grand jury testimony of pro baseball players Jason Giambi and Barry Bonds, making headlines around the world. Fainaru-Wada and Williams won the Dick Schaap Excellence in Sports Journalism Award, the George Polk Award, and the White House Correspondents' Association's Edgar A. Poe Award for their reporting.
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