Bonds' Dirty Secret

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Bonds' Dirty Secret

This is Diana Nyad for KCRW, and this is The Score.

When the rumors buzzed last summer about Lance Armstrong having cheated with a performance-enhancing drug in an earlier Tour de France, the source of that allegation was a former masseuse of the Armstrong entourage who had been fired. In her tell-all book, she didn't tell much. No second sources, no cross-references. Hers was a book published in French, yet no American publisher took even a nibble at it.

But the Barry Bonds allegations of this week have muscle behind them. What we have had reason to suspect until this point is now blatantly in the open. You may be a die-hard Giants fan who is blinded by those crunching Bonds power hits out into McCovey's Cove and you just can't swallow the idea that your hero is a cheat. You may be a lawyer who can eloquently argue the rights of all citizens to remain innocent until proven guilty and you will remind us that Bonds has never tested positive for an illegal substance. Or you may be one of the many players in the League today who stand behind Bonds because you simply believe in the brotherhood of sport.

But the breaking news this week on Bonds' performance-enhancing drug use comes from a base of undeniable credibility. The two reporters, whose book will be out end of this month, have written at this point more than a hundred articles for the San Francisco Chronicle on the BALCO lab scandal in Northern California. In ferreting out that story, the Bonds truth stared them in the face. They have second sources, multiple cross-references--more than 200 of them.

The minute details reporters Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada chronicle present a stream of irrefutable evidence--from the day Bonds stopped using Winstrol, the same steroid that brought Olympic shame to Ben Johnson in 1988, because the drug caused Bonds' elbow problems, to the day he chose to experiment with a steroid used on cattle, just one of a long list of substances stuffed into the Bonds medicine cabinet, to the day he decided to take over the injections from his trainer and handle the needle himself. If the jig wasn't up before this week, it is now.

Bonds' disregard for the history of his game is despicable. He says he's being persecuted because he's black. That's not it. He's a target because he's a star. Agreed he is not the only player in the entire league who uses performance drugs. Rafael Palmeiro is but one example of that. Let's say dozens of active players are juiced. But they're not chasing history. They're not knocking at the all-time home run record door, about to surpass the legend likes of Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron. What a sad state of affairs, that the executives of Major League Baseball are for the first time ever actually hoping that one of their biggest stars never recovers from his injury. If Bonds' knee doesn't come around and he is forced into retirement before catching the Ruth record, it will be the only foreseeable easy out. Otherwise, with this book soon on public record, Congress will slap hearings together and the US Attorney will begin perjury indictments.

To take the Bonds race point, though, it was just about a year ago when we witnessed home run king Mark McGwire hang his head in silence at Congressional hearings, basically admitting to his cheating ways. It's true that we don't see McGwire throwing out the first pitch at the World Series or long lines of kids clamoring for his autograph any more, but his vilification has been subtle. Why haven't two solid reporters drudged up the whole truth in his case?

Barry Bonds will have to walk away from more than the game. He's thrown his career into the trash. In my opinion, that day will come before his knee gives out. And if he's already scribbled notes for that speech he surely would have had the honor to make in Cooperstown, he can throw that away, too.

This is Diana Nyad for KCRW, and that's The Score.



Diana Nyad