On the June 23,1969, cover of Sports Illustrated is the silhouette of an athlete surrounded byan assortment of pills--including anabolic steroids--and a hypodermic needle.The headline reads, DRUGS--A THREAT TO SPORT. SI has stayed on the steroidsstory for 36 years and eight covers (below).
Totally Juiced, TomVerducci's piece in the June 3, 2002, SI, so comprehensively broke down the useof performance-enhancing drugs in the national pastime that it changed thesport and stirred the legislative halls of Washington. In response to theexposé--and to the headlines it generated--major league players agreed for thefirst time to undergo random drug testing and lawmakers introduced legislationto reclassify performance-enhancing steroid precursors such as Andro ascontrolled substances. Most recently, The Liars Club, by S.L. Price (SI, Dec.26, 2005--Jan. 2, 2006), painted the congressional hearings on steroids inbaseball as a sad clown show in which Sammy Sosa used a translator, a weepyMark McGwire looked guilty from the start, commissioner Bud Selig and his staffappeared by turn duplicitous, uncooperative and clueless, and Rafael Palmeiro,who swore he had never used steroids, would soon be suspended for doing justthat.
Now comes SI'sexcerpt from Game of Shadows, by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, whichstarts on page 38. The authors are investigative reporters for the SanFrancisco Chronicle who, after 15 months of digging, broke the story of BayArea Laboratory Co-Operative in December 2004. Their first BALCO piece exposedthe tiny nutritional supplements company that was, according to secret grandjury testimony, supplying elite athletes with banned drugs. Subsequent piecesin the Chronicle unveiled BALCO owner Victor Conte as a steroid Svengali andtold of coaches and trainers who connected star baseball players and track andfield athletes to the drugs. At the center of Fainaru-Wada and Williams'sreporting, and their book, is Barry Bonds, whose phenomenal late-careerperformance has him threatening the home run marks of Babe Ruth and HankAaron.
Fainaru-Wada andWilliams interviewed more than 200 sources, speaking with some every day, andtheir reporting has won them the Dick Schaap Excellence in Sports JournalismAward, the George Polk Award for Sports Reporting and the White HouseCorrespondents' Association's Edgar A. Poe Award. This does not mean that theirstories were always the favorites of hometown readers. "We knew that ourcoverage was not going to be popular out at the ballpark," says PhilBronstein, the editor of the Chronicle, "but we also knew that there wasthe issue of role models and the growing number of kids taking steroids in highschool. We kept our eye on that ball."
March 13, 2006
Verducciinterviewed Fainaru-Wada and Williams for SI.com's story on the book, and videoof their conversation is also available online. Additional material from Gameof Shadows will appear in the Chronicle and can be read at sfgate.com.