Informing A Nation About Steroid Use SPORTS REVIEWS
The admissions come like thunderbolts, snapping the sports world to attention. This time, it was Marion Jones, who admitted she was using banned substances when she won five medals at the 2000 Summer Olympics. And how appropriate that her confession coincides with the release of 'Steroid Nation' (ESPN Books, $24.95), a detective-like investigation that traces the origins of steroid use in sports. Author Shaun Assael starts with the 'guru' of steroids, Dan Duchaine, who wrote 'The Underground Steroid Handbook' in 1981. With detailed reporting gleaned from five years of covering the steroids beat for ESPN, and crisp, fast-paced writing, Assael weaves a story that includes athletes such as Jones, Lyle Alzado, Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco; and celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. Victor Conte, Barry Bonds and the BALCO scandal receive some cursory attention, but Assael's most lurid details concern the exploits of Duchaine, who found a 'wonder drug' for athletes and a willing clientele eager to use them.The short, punchy vignettes make for a page-turning pleasure. There are even chilling looks at how steroids have filtered down to the high school level. It's a must-read for fans and aspiring athletes. WRESTLING ADVENTURES: Among athletes, pro wrestlers are the best storytellers. Hands down. Mick Foley, Rick Flair and Terry Funk have written great memoirs about 'the business' (and please, when will Dory Funk Jr. follow suit?). Now comes Tampa resident Chris Jericho, who combines with Peter Thomas Fornatale in 'A Lion's Tale: Around the World In Spandex' (Grand Central Publishing, $25.99) to spin funny, earthy and outrageous tales, mostly from the 1990s. You don't have to be a Jerichoholic to appreciate the back-room dealings of pro wrestling's bookers, the grind of travel, and the physical wear and tear the men endure. Find out who the Dom DeLuise of wrestling is. And the 'White Urkel.' Jericho's anecdotes often include his good friend Chris Benoit, whose suicide in June after he murdered his wife and child occurred as the book was going to press. Jericho's last-minute author's note is painful, poignant and sincere. REMEMBER THE BILLS: The Bills were more than O.J., Marv Levy and Scott Norwood's 'wide right.' In 'The Good, The Bad and the Ugly: Buffalo Bills' (Triumph Books, $19.95), sportswriter Scott Pitoniak uses enough short, punchy anecdotes, quotes and pullout facts to satisfy any Bills aficionado. Characters like Lou Saban and memories like the Bills' comeback win against the Oilers after trailing 35-3 are mixed in with the five best teams in franchise history, plus the best and worst trades. Certainly, the Bills' stunning, last-second 25-24 loss to Dallas on Oct. 8 will be in the next printing.