Monday, July 31, 2006

NonFiction - Game of Shadows

When I first picked up Game of Shadows I thought the focus was solely on Barry Bonds and his relationship with BALCO. The two authors (San Francisco Chronicle reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams) not only take you into the history of BALCO, its owners and Barry Bonds but also deep into the world of Olympic athletes and coaches/trainers who aid athletes in obtaining steroids. The book itself is very easy to read as it follows a chronological timeline and reads like a true crime story. The authors do an excellent job of presenting evidence and documents of steroid abuse and illustrate how the science of steroid use has evolved beyond the ability to detect is so that athletes who take it can and do pass doping tests. The evidence also clearly points out that Barry Bonds, Marion Jones, Tim Montgomery, and other baseball, football, and track & field stars certainly did take forms of illegal steroids. The upsetting part to me is that fans and athletes put so much pressure on themselves to win and make money that they feel the need to cheat. Or, they cheat because everybody else around them is. I found it very startling when a track & field sprinter said that it was likely that in the 100m and 200m dash 9 out of the 10 competitors were likely doping and getting away with it. In the end I felt disappointed at what in my view where light sentences for athletes, coaches, trainers and BALCO executives. I also think that from now on when somebody breaks an athletic record I will wonder in the back of my mind if they used an illegal performance enhancing drug. I appreciate the work that these two reporters did to bring the world of sports doping to light. I only wish governing sports bodies would do more to prevent cheaters (especially MLB).


Joy said...

Did they focus primarily on the US or did they mention any international scandals also? Is it prevalent worldwide or just in the US since we pay our athletes such high salaries?

Bryan said...

The main focus was US athletes, however there was some discussion on international athletes as well. I do remember an interesting point that the authors brought up. They indicated that many in the US look at other Olympic athletes from other countries (especially eastern european) as heavy into doping when in reality many US athletes are just as guilty. Coverups certainly exist to shield countries, coaches, and athletes. Why you ask, beacuse it is all about prestige and $$$