Sunday, April 6, 2008

Game of Shadows

A book entitled “Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the steroids scandal that rocked professional sports," was published in early March 2006. It focused on the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, (BALCO) owned by Victor Conte.
Allegedly, Conte developed multiple designer steroids, steroids that would not be detected in the modern day steroid testing. Everything began in 2003 when an anonymous source told the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that a steroid existed that was undetectable. Conte was named as the provider of the steroid. Later that year, collaboratively, the IRS, FDA, USDA and San Mateo Narcotics Task Force investigated the BALCO laboratories. Multiple athletes in various sports were listed as BALCO customers. The following year, Conte admitted on ABC’s 20/20 to contributing to Olympic records revealing "the whole history of the games is just full of corruption, cover-up, performance-enhancing drug use." (1)
Throughout this entire process, Patrick Arnold, who was employed by BALCO as a chemist, implicated among others such as Bonds and Gary Sheffield as professional athletes receiving a steroid simply titled "the clear."
Conte and Greg Anderson, a personal trainer and supposed friend of Bonds, pled guilty to steroid distribution and money laundering.
Although Conte and Anderson were now found guilty, the spotlight was shined on Bonds. During his 2003 testimony, Bonds stated he had received and used "the clear" and another cream steroid from Anderson during the 2003 baseball season. He claims he was told they were nutritional supplements. On December 4, 2003, Bonds was confronted with more steroid allegations stating he took human growth hormone, a claim he denied.
Documents exist that implicate Bonds from 2001 to 2003 detailing a long list of steroids used, all of which he has denied.
Although this grand jury testimony is now information that we readily have, it would not be without the courage of the writers of "Game of Shadows." The authors compiled this information from court documents, confidential statements by athletes and trainers, grand jury testimony, audiotapes, BALCO documents, and interviews from over 200 sources. A good deal of this information although true was illegally obtained.
In October 2006, Fainaru-Wada and Williams were served with subpoenas to appear before a grand jury to reveal the source who, leaked Bonds name and testimony. They refused to reveal the source and were sentenced to 18 months in jail. In February 2007, the sentence and charges were dropped after Troy Ellerman, once legal council for Conte, admitted to leaking the information and pled guilty to disclosing grand jury testimony.
Williams stated:
"I'm supposed to keep my promises when people help me and take me at my word. I do despair for our country if we go very far down this road, because no one will talk to reporters."
Phil Bronstein, San Francisco Chronicle Executive Vice President and Editor, stated "It's a tragedy that the government seeks to put reporters in jail for doing their job."


1 comment:

C-Harp said...

I assume that Fainaru-Wada and Williams came up with some sort of agreement to get this information from Troy Ellerman, former legal council for Victor Conte. This case points back to journalists respecting the privacy of their sources. Williams' comment about "it's a shame that journalists are being sent to jail for doing their job," is well stated in my opinion. Why were the writers of "Game of Shadows" punished for respecting their source? Do you think they knew they were taking a risk of getting into trouble, or getting Ellerman into trouble before they published the book?