The Unsung Heroes of Baseball’s Steroid Era

Anabolic Steroids / Bodybuilding Blog

The Unsung Heroes of Baseball’s Steroid Era

These men are resposible for helping rid baseball of steroids and human growth hormone (hGH). Certain people such as Bud Selig and Jose Canseco have had a profound effect on the scnadal and will ultimately prevent countless players and children from using steroids and hGH. But since their actions have also contributed to countless instances of performance-enhancing drug use (selig with his complacency, Canseco directly and indirectly may be the worst of all) this column is loathe to consider either a hero.


Thomas Boswell

Boswell broke the silence about steroids in September 1988 in an interview with Charlie Rose. A reporter for The Washington Post, Boswell told Rose that Canseco, who was about to become the MVP and the first 40/40 ever, was “the most conspicuous example of a player who has made himself great with steroids.” At the time, steroid accusations were virtually non-existent.

Steve Wilstein

Wilstein was the reporter who discovered the bottle of Andostenedinone, a legal steroid precurser, in Mark McGwire’s locker at the height of the home run chase in 1998. While baseball tried to ignore the story, the Cardinals tried to have Wilstein banned from the clubhouse, and other journalists personally attacked him wanting to know why he would write something so negative amid one of the most positive stories in baseball history. The article entitled Drug OK in Baseball, Not Olympics spurned Bud Selig to announce an investigation into supplements. The publicity sent Andro sales through the roof, increasing 1000% the month after the story ran and McGwire said everyone he knew in baseball ‘uses the same stuff I use’. Although the same publicity was surely a factor in governmental action reclassifying prohormones like andro as steroids and their inclusion in the Anabolic Steroids Control Act 2004.

Lance Williams

San Francisco Chronicle reporter who, along with Mark Fainaru-Wada, published the BALCO grand jury leaked testimony, then later co-wrote the book, Game of Shadows. Williams along with Fainaru-Wada have been sentenced to jail for refusing to divulge the source of the leak.

Mark Fainaru-Wada

San Francisco Chronicle reporter who, along with Lance Williams, published the BALCO grand jury leaked testimony, then later co-wrote the book, Game of Shadows. Fainaru-Wada along with Williams have been sentenced to jail for refusing to divulge the source of the leak. Fainaru-Wada’s e-mail correspondence with Victor Conte has implicated the BALCO founder as a possible source of the leak and was the main evidence used in the Government’s Opposition To Motion To Quash Grand Jury Subpoena.

The ‘Crusaders’

Gary Wadler

Author of Drugs and the Athlete, a groundbreaking book that would become one of the standards for most drug testing programs. Wadler has advised the US Government, the WADA and the IOC in efforts to clean up sports.

“I’m very much focused on the tangible effects of performance enhancers. Do I have a rife with sights that I’m aiming at? Absolutely not. I don’t work for anyone. I don’t get paid by anyone. What I do, I do strictly as a volunteer. I seek solutions to a very serious problem and to characterize me in any other way is to severely mischaracterize me.”

Charles Yesalis

Yesalis, a steroids expert and epidemiologist at Penn State was once a protégé of Dr. Charles Kochakian, the famous chemist who coined the term ‘anabolic-androgenic steroids.’ In 1993 Yesalis wrote the groundbreaking book Anabolic Steroids in Sports and Exercise. A very vocal critic of steroid testing programs in all sports, Yesalis believed the country was threatened by steroids given the hero worship of athletes, especially by children.

“As far as I’m concerned they’ve been simply dragged their feet kicking and screaming from Ben Johnson on. That’s why Ben Johnson was so important. It started the dominos falling when a reporter asked if the drug testing was so good, then how did Johnson pass those previous nineteen drug tests? And you can say the same today. Look at all the drug tests Marion Jones, Tim Montgomery, Kelli White, Michelle Collins, and all the people their ilk passed successfully. If it was so damned good, how come all those people passed for so long?”

Richard Melloni

A neuroscientist at Northwestern University studying the effects of steroid on the brain. Melloni focused on youth and aggression. He found that steroid use caused hamsters to become noticeably violent. Perhaps even more scary, Melloni found that while his hamsters became less aggressive when they went off steroids, they never recovered their previous serotonin levels. Serotonin is linked to depression, sleep disorders and many severe psychiatric problems. This correlation is thought to have attributed to the suicide of 17 year-old, Taylor Hooten and others.

“It was a simple question. If these things make you aggressive, does that happen because it changes the brain development? That’s when we got into looking at the circuits of the brain that are involved in aggression control. We asked the question directly: We know from a number of studies that selected areas of the brain are involved in aggression we found that anabolic steroid exposure during adolescence turns up the circuits responsible for stimulating aggression. It superactivates them.”

Robert Cantu

Cantu is a Boston neurosurgeon who specializes in catastrophic sports injuries. Cantu believed the less known premise that steroid use not only caused sterility in its users, but affected the reproductive systems of the user’s children and grandchildren.

“With steroids, one plus one equals three. An athlete could work out far beyond what they would be able to do without them. Not only does the quality of the workout increase, but it allows a person to work at intensities that would normally break them down. That is not the normal evolution, and the downsides are pretty horrific.”

Don Catlin

Catlin founded the UCLA Olympic Laboratory in 1982 to do the doping control tests for the 1984 Olympics. Ever since then, the laboratory’s service group has provided drug education and urine tests to a growing number of national and international sports organizations, including the U.S. Olympic Committee (since 1985, turned over to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in 2000), NCAA (since 1986), NFL (since 1990) and Minor League Baseball (since 2004) and now Major League Baseball. To conduct sports doping control testing, its scientists are required to master analytical chemistry, drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics, legal and ethical issues.

Catlin advised IRS Agent Jeff Novitzky during the BALCO investigation. Aside from scientific expertise, Catlin determined that The Clear was an anabolic steroid and later developed a test for the previously undetectable drug.

Dick Pound

Former head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and current head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), Pound has been both applauded and scolded for his efforts to deal with drug problems in the Olympics. Performance-enhancing drug use is rampant at the Olympics. It is commonly believed that the drugs were first introduced to sport through Russian weightlifters at the Olympics in the 1960s. While drugs are a major problem for the IOC, their testing program is by far the most advanced in all of sport.

Government Officials

John McCain

On April 8, 2004, U.S. Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, introduced a resolution that calls on Major League Baseball and its players to immediately adopt a legitimate drug-testing policy. The resolution passed by voice vote. The resolution expressed the idea that Major League Baseball’s current drug-testing policy fails to protect the game, its players, and the children and teenagers who emulate them. McCain has led the way in condemning baseball’s steroid policy and forcing their hand at coming up with a more strict policy.

Jeff Novitzky

In 2000 Novitzky and the IRS Criminal Investigation Unit investigated a tip that Greg Anderson was dealing steroids at a San Francisco area World Gym. They tried to infiltrate the gym and make a purchase from Anderson, but the investigation failed. Two years later, Novitzky and IRS CI began investigating BALCO and Anderson. The IRS has never revealed how BALCO came to be investigated, but state drug agent Ira White told Playboy that it was initiated by Novitzky himself after he became convinced Barry Bonds was using steroids. Armed with two tips to separate government agencies that Anderson was dealing steroids to major league baseball players, Novitzky started sifting through BALCO’s trash looking for evidence, and the rest is history.


Ken Caminiti

In 2002 Former Padres third baseman and MVP, Caminiti admitted to using steroids beginning in his MVP season in 1996 and continuing until the end of his career. The Sports Illustrated article by Tom Verducci was a major catalyst in bringing this issue to light when no one inside the game would talk about it. While Canseco had already admitted his use, he was thought to be publicity hungry and unreliable, Caminiti was loved in the game, and had integrity. He didn’t name names, but the admission of his use and an estimation that half of players were also using sent shock waves throughout baseball. While Caminiti didn’t mean to cause such an uproar

Tom House

In May 2005, House admitted to using steroids in the 1970s, the earliest such account on record. In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, he described his use of steroids as “a failed experiment”, although he increased from around 190 pounds to around 220 while using them. He viewed the experience as a failure since the extra muscle did not help his 82-MPH fastball, and because he believes the drugs contributed to knee problems requiring seven operations.

House has stated that “six or seven” pitchers on every major league staff in the 1970s were “fiddling” with steroids or human growth hormone (hGH). He attributes players’ willingness to experiment with performance-enhancing substances to the permissiveness of the drug culture of the 1960s. While Canseco and Caminiti’s comments shed some light on the extent of steroid use in the game, House’s confession gave them historical perspective, and for the first time suggested a major problem with pitchers. Whether he meant to or not, House helped the government and the public understand the full scope of drug use making it more possible to honeslty empathize and contructively deal with the situation.

The term, Crusaders, and information therein from Juicing the Game: Drugs, Power, and the Fight For the Soul of Major League Baseball by Howard Bryant.

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