Fainaru-Wada, Mark 1965-
Fainaru-Wada, Mark 1965-
PERSONAL: Born 1965; married; children: two.
CAREER: Writer, journalist, and investigative reporter. San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco, CA, reporter.
AWARDS, HONORS: George Polk Award, Long Island University, 2004, for sports reporting involving investigation into use of steroids in major sports; Dick Schaap Excellence in Sports Journalism Award, 2004; Journalist of the Year, Northern California Pro Chapter, Society of Professional Journalists, 2006.
SIDELIGHTS: Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams are investigative reporters with the San Francisco Chronicle. Their work has received wide acclaim from both peers and audiences. However, their investigations have also brought them into conflict with the American legal system. In 2006, Fainaru-Wada and Williams both faced up to eighteen months in jail for contempt of court when they refused to divulge their sources for a series of articles and a book on steroid abuse involving high-profile athletes in major-league baseball and other sports.
Fainaru-Wada, a sports journalist, and Williams, an investigative reporter, became involved in the story after a federal raid on the Bay Area Laboratory CoOperative (BALCO), a sports nutrition company in California, and on the home of Greg Anderson, the personal trainer of baseball superstar Barry Bonds. At first, the raid appeared to stem from an IRS tax-related issue, but as Fainaru-Wada and Williams investigated, they discovered that BALCO was accused of providing illegal steroids and other performance-enhancing substances to several professional athletes. Most notable among the list of BALCO’s clients was baseball slugger Bonds, whose athletic prowess saw him set new home-run records. Williams and Fainaru-Wada wrote a series of articles on the BALCO scandal, with an emphasis on Bonds’s association with the company and evidence of his use of illegal steroids. Records taken from BALCO “tracked Bonds’s drug protocol in extraordinary detail and revealed that he had been consuming drugs in multiple forms over several years,” including two potent but undetectable designer steroids, noted Mark Starr in Newsweek. They found that the BALCO prosecutors, while claiming to be interested in cleaning up major league sports, carefully concealed the identities of the sports stars accused of illegal steroid use. Anderson pleaded guilty to steroids distribution and was sentenced to six months in jail. In the course of their investigation, Fainaru-Wada and Williams obtained leaked grand jury testimony which included many statements from Bonds himself.
With this grand jury testimony and material gathered from other sources, Fainaru-Wada and Williams wrote Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal That Rocked Professional Sports, a book covering the development and impact of the BALCO case on professional sports and on Bonds in particular. Reviewer Michiko Kakutani, writing in the New York Times Book Review, called the book “necessary reading for anyone concerned with the steroids era in baseball and track and field and its fallout on sports history.” Following the release of Game of Shadows, the reporters’ peers praised and defended their work. However, in May, 2006, Fainaru-Wada and Williams were served with subpoenas compelling them to reveal the confidential source that leaked Bonds’s grand jury testimony to them. After failing to divulge their source, Williams and Fainaru-Wada were sentenced to up to eighteen months in jail. Both vowed to serve the time, if necessary, rather than violate their personal and journalistic ethics. Colleagues came to their defense. Steve Kettman, for example, writing in San Francisco Magazine, commented that with their exposure of the high levels of hypocrisy and deception in both government and professional sports, “Fainaru-Wada and Williams reminded everyone that reporting still matters.”
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES
Booklist, September 1, 2006, Mike Tribby, review of Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal That Rocked Professional Sports, p. 150.
Chicago Sun Times, March 9, 2006, Roman Modrowski, “Author Knows All about This Giant Controversy,” profile of Mark Fainaru-Wada.
Entertainment Weekly, April 21, 2006, Melissa Rose Bernardo, Jeff Labrecque, and Bob Cannon, review of Game of Shadows, p. 77.
Hollywood Reporter, August 16, 2006, “Talk, Judges Rule,” p. 3; September 22, 2006, “Facing Jail,” p. 5.
New York Times Book Review, March 23, 2006, Michiko Kakutani, “Barry Bonds and Baseball’s Steroids Scandal,” review of Game of Shadows; May 7, 2006, Michael Sokolove, review of Game of Shadows, p. 12.
Newsweek, March 20, 2006, Mark Starr, “Bonds Gets Blasted: A Scorching New Book Boosts the Case That the Slugger’s Records Were Drug-Assisted,” review of Game of Shadows, p. 49.
Quill, October-November, 2006, “NorCal Chapter to Honor Bay Area Journalists,” p. 11.
San Francisco Chronicle, February 22, 2005, Stacy Finz, “Chronicle Reporters Honored for Sports Steroids Coverage; Polk Award among Journalism’s Highest,” p. A-2; August 30, 2006, Debra J. Saunders, “Justice Department of Steroids,” p. E-7; September 21, 2006, “Statement by Chronicle reporter Mark Fainaru-Wada”; September 21, 2006, “Statement by Chronicle reporter Lance Williams.”
ABC News Web site, http://abcnews.go.com/ (September 22, 2006), Wright Thompson, “Jail for Barry Bonds Reporters: We All Lose.
”Bookreporter.com, http://www.bookreporter.com/ (December 20, 2006), Ron Kaplan, review of Game of Shadows.
CJR Daily, http://www.cjrdaily.org/ (December 17, 2004), Susan Q. Stranahan, “Mark Fainaru-Wada on the Sports Doping Probe and Protecting Sources,” interview with Mark Fainaru-Wada.
San Francisco Magazine, http://www.sanfranciscomagazine.com/ (December 20, 2006), Steve Kett-mann, “Who Put the Chron on Steroids?,” profile of Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams.
Scriptorium Web site, http://illuminate.redline6.net/ (June 20, 2006), Matthew Davis, review of Game of Shadows.
Truthdig.com, http://www.truthdig.com/ (June 13, 2006), James Harris, interview with Mark Fainaru-Wada.