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Dublin: 15 °C Friday 1 August, 2014

Meet the man who ruined baseball

John Riordan, in New York, watches another seedy chapter of American sports history unfold.

St Louis Cardinal's hitting coach Mark McGwire watches batting practice..
St Louis Cardinal's hitting coach Mark McGwire watches batting practice..
Image: Jeff Roberson/AP/Press Association Images

PATRICK ARNOLD’S TWITTER profile has a succinct bio: “I ruined baseball”.

Arnold is the organic chemist who, according to his blog, patrickarnoldblog.com, is “renowned in the field of performance enhancement and sports supplements”.

The muscle-bound geek first came to prominence back in 1998 after eagle-eyed AP reporter Steve Wilstein spotted a bottle labelled ‘androstenedione’ sitting brazenly on the top shelf of Mark McGwire’s locker as the St Louis Cardinals slugger swung his way towards a record 70 home runs, enjoying a memorable battle with Sammy Sosa that is now memorable for all the wrong reasons.

It was Arnold who created the ‘juice’ that gave McGwire his ridiculous power with the bat. Arnold subsequently developed the undetectable steroid (Tetrahydrogestrinone) THG for the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operation and spent four months in prison as a result.

Arnold’s name popped up yesterday as the long-awaited perjury trial of Barry Bonds finally got going in San Francisco.

Ex-San Francisco Giant Bonds, the career home run record-holder in the Major League, is accused of giving false testimony to a federal grand jury investigating steroid use in sports.

Arnold is just one of the many comically carefree characters who drift in and out of what has the makings of sport’s biggest show trial, the result or effect of which no one can predict.

Back in January, Arnold used his blog to blast the government for wasting tax dollars in their pursuit of Bonds. And in the same blog, he lobbed out his two cents on Lance Armstrong: “Yeah, whoopee. Of course he doped. Everyone doped in the field of elite cycling.”

Meanwhile, Bonds must once again convince everyone around him that he is an innocent victim of a bigger system. He told a grand jury in December 2003 that he didn’t know he was using designer steroids and that he thought he was taking “flaxseed oil” and “arthritic cream”. Assistant US Attorney Matthew A Parrella yesterday called this an “utterly ridiculous and unbelievable story” during his opening statement.

Then Bonds’ trainer Greg Anderson, who has been frogmarched in and out of prison for refusing to testify against his old buddy, refused to testify for a third time and was promptly redirected back to his jail cell.

Over here on the East Coast, meanwhile, a different sort of seedy courtroom drama played out as New York Giants legend Lawrence Taylor capped off a chaotic and protracted fall from grace after he was handed six years’ probation for messing around with an underage prostitute at a Holiday Inn.

The Hall of Fame linebacker narrowly avoided a four-year prison sentence for statutory rape before promptly displaying the sort of lack of judgement that got him in this mess by appearing on Fox News with Shepard Smith where his rambling ‘explanation’ of the pitfalls of prostitution spiralled down into the sad mutterings of a lonely soul.



There’s a ray of hope at the end of this week however – March Madness swings back into action tomorrow night. The NCAA has its problems but I’m more than happy to be carried along by the whimsical innocence of the on-court action.

If only to forget that lurking in the shadows are exploitative individuals who, like Patrick Arnold, beg us to hate the game and not the player.

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