I finished Game of Shadows : Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the steroids scandal that rocked professional sports the other day and it lived up to its bulky subtitle alright. What an absolute fiasco the whole BALCO scandal was, pointing fingers at dozens of elite athletes and showing just what a sham even the Olympic steroid testing is.
One thing that really struck me was just what a pack of liars these people were. At some level, I can understand the narcissistic need to pump yourself up so you can win, but I can't fathom the desire to lie so boldly and baldly. It would be one thing to deny using The Clear, The Creme and other undetectable steroids when asked directly. But many of these cheats went out of their way to deny it. Tim Montgomery, world class runner and cheat, viciously decried CJ Hunter's positive test while he was in the middle of a massive regimine of doping. Marion Jones, self-proclaimed Fastest Woman in the World, wrote in big letters in her autobiography that she never used enhancing drugs, while in the middle of later admitted steriod boosting. Just unbelievably brazen!
The only drawbacks to the book, besides the incredible disappointment in these athletes it engenders, are its apostrophes and its redundancy. It continually bugged me that they used "Bonds's" rather than the more usual "Bonds'". I know both are "legal", but the s's is just weird. And, probably due to its being adapted from a long newspaper series, there were plenty of times when they repeat statements about who the actors are in this, even if there are many pages already spent describing them.
As for Bonds, what can you say? There is simply no doubt that he not only took a whole array of steroids, but that he knew exactly what he was doing and did it with the express purpose of breaking the home run record. They spend a whole appendix listing the various proofs of Bonds' complicity. And they also spend plenty of pages on just what a truly arrogant and annoying person he is too. Of course, using steroids wasn't illegal in baseball at the time due to baseball's "head in the sand" attitude about it, which opened up new avenues for Bonds and his trainer to explore, as they could use drugs the Olympic athletes couldn't. Then again, despite the "gold standard" of Olympic testing, plenty of those athletes escaped detection anyway.
Truly a book for any sports fan to read, as long as you don't mind coming away even more disillusioned with elite athletes than you probably already are. These people live in a rarefied world and just don't get "Real Life".