NEW YORK, Feb. 26 /PRNewswire/ — For more than five years the national media coverage of the BALCO investigation has been fed by a national obsession to shame, humiliate and prosecute athletes for alleged lies about sports doping. In “The Persecution of Barry Bonds” San Francisco based author and journalist Jonathan Littman takes a different view of the greatest steroid sports scandal in history, one that asks what it was all about, and whether the point of the whole multi-million dollar investigation has been to divert attention from the real villains, Bud Selig, the Commissioner of Major League baseball and the owners who profited for more than a decade by a culture of rampant steroid abuse. The full report is available online now at playboy.com/steroids and will be printed in the April issue of Playboy, on newsstands Friday, March 20.
Littman broke the inside story of BALCO in May 2004 for Playboy in “Gunning for the Big Guy.” He has reported on this story for nearly six years, filing more than fifty stories on the topic. Littman has met and interviewed the key players in this drama dozens of times over the past half decade. The only journalist to have interviewed three of the four original BALCO investigators, Littman has attended nearly every trial and hearing in the sprawling, massively covered scandal, from the BALCO trials to the hearings in the perjury case against Barry Bonds, to the Clemens Congressional hearing. Previously unknown facts uncovered in Littman’s report include:
1. NOVITZKY’S GAME: How Agent Jeff Novitzky got the green light for an
unprecedented multi-million dollar IRS witch hunt. Before the 2003
raid on BALCO, before a single headline was ever written, Littman knew
that Agent Novitzky, a then unheralded IRS agent, was obsessed with
bringing down Barry Bonds.
2. PROTECTING BUD: How Novitzky and the BALCO federal prosecutors
seemingly protected Bud Selig and Major League baseball, by not
calling the Commissioner or baseball’s owners to testify to their
knowledge of rampant steroid use in baseball.
3. HIDING THE CLEAR: Previous press reports repeated the government
account that The Clear, the centerpiece drug in BALCO was an illegal
steroid. Secret grand jury testimony of Jeff Novitzky himself reveals
that the government knew early on that it was not an illegal drug.
4. PERJURY TRAP: The BALCO investigation, far from an attempt to clean up
sports, was designed to entrap one man, Barry Bonds. How the
government misled Bonds on the day of his Grand Jury testimony and
appears to have to set up baseball’s all-time home-run king on a
5. TRUTH TELLER UNMASKED: At the very time Agent Novitzky was given
unprecedented powers and funds to trip up athletes in lies, the
Treasury opened an investigation that questioned his credibility. The
origins of a five-year-old secret investigation that has already
caused the lawyer for one BALCO defendant to ask a judge to set aside
a conviction and may imperil the Bonds case.