There are many reasons Yankees outfielder Gary Sheffield and Giants slugger Barry Bonds don't hang out together anymore, but one of the biggest is the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative.
In testimony before a federal grand jury last year, Sheffield admitted to unwittingly having used a steroid cream -- saying he didn't know it contained anything illegal -- that he got from BALCO after Bonds introduced him to the lab's products, according to a report in the Oct. 11 issue of Sports Illustrated.
Sheffield told the magazine that he thought "the cream" was cortisone-based -- he applied it to his surgically repaired knee -- and that he so little suspected its true ingredients that he openly kept it in his locker.
"I was mad. I want everybody to be on an even playing field," Sheffield told the magazine.
Bonds, through a spokesperson, declined to address Sheffield's comments in the magazine, saying only, "I wish nothing but the best for Gary. I want him to win the MVP. He deserves it."
Bob Holley, the lawyer for BALCO president Victor Conte, said in an e-mail to The Associated Press on Tuesday that "BALCO provided
Gary Sheffield with no illegal substances and the check BALCO
received from Sheffield was for legal nutritional supplements."
Sheffield, who spends much of the article detailing what he considers to be Bonds' character flaws and explaining why he no longer wants to be a friend of Bonds', said he was shocked and angry when it was reported that BALCO's "the cream" and "the clear" were designer steroids.
The two stars trained together; in fact, Sheffield reportedly lived at Bonds' home for several weeks before the 2002 season. Both worked out with Bonds' trainer, Greg Anderson, who was indicted Feb. 12 on charges of conspiring to distribute performance-enhancing drugs. According to SI, Bonds also introduced Sheffield to Conte, who was indicted with Anderson and two other men.
"[Bonds] said, 'I got guys here, they can get your urine and blood and prescribe a vitamin specifically for your blood type and what your body needs,' " Sheffield told SI. "And that's what I did."
The relationship between Sheffield and Bonds began to sour while they trained. Sheffield said he felt like he was treated like a child while a guest at Bonds' house.
"I don't want friends like that," Sheffield told SI. "I will never have friends like that."
Examples of petty behavior by Bonds, as described by Sheffield to SI:
Bonds insisted that Sheffield live at his house, not rent a car, and not pay for anything. Sheffield said he did bring his personal chef with him.
"[It was], 'It's my way or no way,' " Sheffield told the magazine. "I'm not a child. I make $11 million. I can buy what I want."
To show his thanks to Bonds for inviting him to stay in his home, Sheffield arranged for the two to see a boxing match in Miami in 2002.
"I was going to pay for the plane, the flight, pay for the limo service, the hotel," Sheffield told the magazine. "He gets my mail. He looks in my mail and sees he can get better seats, so he gets better seats. He can get a better flight, so he gets a better flight. He can get a better limo service. And he can get a better hotel. So basically my plan, in trying to do something in return, he wound up doing it. And [that sort of behavior] just escalated."
There also was a time when Sheffield arranged for a limo and tickets for the two to see a Lakers-Kings game in Sacramento.
"He complained the whole drive," Sheffield told the magazine. " 'Man, I could have drove. We would have gotten there a lot faster.' The whole time. And I'm saying to myself, Never again. Never again."
The breaking point occurred, Sheffield told SI, one morning when Bonds left for their workout without him, leaving Sheffield to find his own ride to the gym. When Sheffield arrived, he found Bonds laughing at him with someone he later learned was a writer for Men's Journal.
"He sold me out to the media," Sheffield said.
Sheffield ended the relationship soon after. According to SI, on the flight home to Florida with his chef, the chef told him, "Gary, I want to confess something. [Bonds] made an offer to hire me: He'll get me a car, give me a place to stay and pay off my student loan."
Sheffield told the magazine he and his chef soon parted ways. About a month later, Bonds called to inquire why the chef was no longer working for Sheffield -- without Bonds mentioning that he had hired him.
"That's the kind of person I found out I was dealing with," Sheffield told SI.