SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Barry Bonds' alleged steroid use is the story of spring training again, no matter how hard he and the San Francisco Giants try to avoid it and keep the focus on his chase of the home run record.
Bonds used a vast array of performance-enhancing drugs — including steroids and human growth hormone — for at least five seasons beginning in 1998, according to a book written by two San Francisco Chronicle reporters.
An excerpt from "Game of Shadows," which details the slugger's extensive doping program, appears in the March 13 issue of Sports Illustrated.
"I won't even look at it. For what? There's no need to," Bonds said Tuesday after a workout at Scottsdale Stadium. The Giants said Bonds would not comment further.
The 41-year-old Bonds, who testified before a California federal grand jury investigating steroid use by top athletes, repeatedly has denied using performance-enhancing drugs.
"I've read what was reported," Bonds' agent, Jeff Borris, told The Associated Press. "Barry is looking forward to playing this year and the improved health of his knee, and being as productive as he's ever been."
Phone messages left by the AP seeking comment from Bonds' attorney and publicist were not immediately returned Tuesday.
"No, no, no, I don't want to talk about Bonds. I'll see you later," San Francisco manager Felipe Alou said after the Giants' 12-3 win over San Diego in Peoria before bolting onto the bus.
Baseball did not ban performance-enhancing drugs until after the 2002 season, though there has long been suspicion that some star players such as Bonds were taking steroids to gain an edge. This book is yet another distraction for Bonds, who has become as accustomed to steroids questions in recent years as he has inquiries related to his powerful left-handed swing.
"It wasn't illegal," Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said in Florida. "The thing we all worry about is the fact that people discount the fact that you put some numbers up. When you put things like that in jeopardy and in doubt, it's not good for the game. Anytime there's a number out there that we've all thought was natural, it taints the game a little. You wonder about the stats. But we don't know how many did it. Maybe everyone did."
Authors Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, who led the newspaper's coverage of the BALCO scandal, recount in remarkable detail the specifics of Bonds' drug regimen, which they write started in 1998 with injections of Winstrol, a powerful steroid also linked to Rafael Palmeiro.
"The Giants have a long-standing policy not to comment on this legal matter," said Staci Slaughter, the team's vice president of communications.
According to the book, Bonds was using two undetectable designer steroids, informally known as the cream and the clear, plus insulin, human growth hormone and other performance enhancers by 2001, when he hit 73 home runs for the Giants to break Mark McGwire's single-season record of 70 set in 1998.
"I read it, man. I was lost. I didn't even know there were that many kind of steroids," said Cubs manager Dusty Baker, Bonds' former skipper in San Francisco. "I've never even seen steroids. I didn't even know what kind of steroids are steroids other than the kinds you use to fight allergies. ... I was quite surprised with the detail that was in there."
Bonds, a seven-time NL MVP, enters this season with 708 homers, seven shy of passing Babe Ruth and 48 from breaking Hank Aaron's career mark. Bonds said before last season ended that he wanted to get "skinny," but he is about the same size or slightly heavier this spring and is yet to play an exhibition game on his surgically repaired right knee. He underwent three operations last year.
"Game of Shadows" is scheduled to be published March 27 by Gotham Books.
Giants general manager Brian Sabean declined to address the book during Tuesday's game, saying, "Just baseball, guys."
BALCO, the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative founded by Victor Conte, kept track of Bonds' drug use in detail, with folders and calendars that chronicled everything from schedules and quantities to his testosterone levels. Much of that information was obtained by federal agents when they raided the lab in September 2003.
According to reports in The Chronicle, Bonds testified to the grand jury in late 2003 that he used a clear substance and a cream given to him by his personal trainer, Greg Anderson, who pleaded guilty in the BALCO case last July to steroid distribution and money laundering. Bonds said he didn't know that what he was using was a steroid, the newspaper reported.
In October, Anderson was sentenced to three months in prison and three months in home confinement. Conte was among three other men who also pleaded guilty to their role in supplying steroids to elite athletes.
According to the book, Bonds used several substances in various forms — by injecting himself with a syringe, taking injections from Anderson, gulping pills, putting liquid drops under his tongue or rubbing cream on his skin.
Bonds became so experienced and well-versed with the regimen that he occasionally overruled Anderson and took control of his own doping schedule, the book says.
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig had not reviewed the material and had no comment, spokesman Rich Levin said. Selig was en route from Milwaukee to Phoenix for the World Baseball Classic.
Bonds, who will turn 42 in July, played in only 14 games last season, all in September, following the three knee operations. He showed signs of his old self in his brief return, hitting five homers in 42 at-bats.
He caused a stir before spring training started this year with contradicting interviews in February. Bonds told USA Today that his knee bothered him so much he would probably retire after the season, with or without the home run record. Then he told MLB.com that his knee brace felt good enough for him to possibly play 10 more seasons.
He is in the final season of his $90 million, five-year contract and will be eligible for free agency after the World Series, meaning his time with the Giants could be up even if he doesn't retire. He has often said he wants to retire in San Francisco.
The Chronicle reporters, who based the book on a two-year investigation, included an extensive summary on their sources, including court documents, affidavits filed by BALCO investigators, documents written by federal agents, grand jury testimony, audio recordings and interviews with more than 200 people.