Commonwealth National Podcast

Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, Reporters, San Francisco Chronicle; Authors, Game of Shadows

Duration: 
1:05:27
SPEAKERS: Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, Reporters, San Francisco Chronicle; Authors, Game of Shadows
Moderated by Marty Lurie, Sports Producer, Host, "Right off the Bat"

TITLE: Beyond BALCO

Journalists Fainaru-Wada and Williams, who broke open the story about BALCO, performance drugs and big-name athletes, give us a behind-the-scenes look at the world of professional sports. “It’s a great day when you don’t have to go to prison,” jokes Fainaru-Wada, referring to his and Williams’ avoidance of a jail sentence for their coverage of the BALCO performance-enhancing drugs scandal. Their reporting about the ways professional athletes get around the weak deterrents to drug use landed them in legal hot water over their refusal to reveal some of their sources. The two journalists didn’t expect to become such high-profile targets, especially after hearing from a government lawyer that they were unlikely to be subpoenaed and after they met President Bush, a former owner of a sports team: “He told us twice in the course of a four-minute conversation that we’d performed a service,” says Williams. Nonetheless, Fainaru-Wada and Williams give their insight into the state of the game and drugs, and Fainaru-Wada predicts that professional baseball will toughen up its drug testing as a result of the unwanted attention, even if it means baseball players end up with 24-hour scrutiny, just like Olympic athletes endure. “I’m just a fan, I’m not a sports writer,” says Williams, arguing that professional sports needs to get the problem of performance drugs under control or they will lose fans, especially at the periphery.

This program was recorded live on May 29, 2007