Skinny Barry Bonds Leads to More Steroid Suspicions

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An athlete who carries significant muscle mass or has recently gained considerable weight is frequently accused of using anabolic steroids. When Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire bulked up in the years prior to their assault of the single-season homerun record, speculation was rampant that steroids were responsible for the changes in their physiques. So now that Barry Bonds is apparently “skinny” again, the steroid witch-hunters have jumped on the weight loss as further “proof” that Bonds used steroids.

Bonds reportedly weighed 228 pounds at a height of 6-foot-2 in 2007. A photograph recently surfaced that showed Bonds being dwarfed by a man who was 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds.

Bonds has obviously lost weight. But is it fair to suggest that his dramatic weight loss was due to the discontinuation of steroids? Bonds detractors are intent on using this as proof that the former Major League Baseball player used steroids. Could their be a better explanation?

The anti-steroid crowd has conveniently overlooked the fact that Bonds has taken a serious interest in the sport of cycling. Cycling is not a sport that benefits from hypermuscularity. You would never find a top amateur or professional cyclist who weighs anywhere close to Bonds’ previous playing weight of 228 pounds. The body weights of top cyclists tend to be clustered between 150 and 170 pounds.

Barry Bonds is clearly not training for size and strength. He has no incentive to increase or even maintain his former bodyweight if he is serious about optimizing his cycling performance.

There are several indicators that cycling is not just a passing hobby or merely a recreational pursuit for Bonds. First, the aforementioned picture of Bonds was captured when Adam Gold saw Bonds on his bicycle at the top of Independence Pass after finishing a 3-1/2 ride originating in Aspen, Colorado. The spot has an elevation of 12, 995 feet. Cycling in the mountains at these elevations is only for the most serious cyclists.

Bonds also competed in El Tour de Tucson in 2011. The single-stage Arizona race covers a distance of 112-miles. He brought a $16,000 Italian Pinarello racing bike to the event. While certainly not the Tour de France, a bicycle race over 100 miles is not something that a person with only a passing interest in cycling would pursue.

The explanation for Barry Bonds weight loss is simple. As someone who is interested in maximizing performance, Bonds has chosen to adapt his training and physique to the demands involved with optimizing cycling performance.

Furthermore, the argument that only hypermuscular athletes use anabolic steroids and human growth hormone (hGH) is flawed. The use of hGH and steroids, such as testosterone, is widespread in ultra-endurance events like cycling. Just because pro cyclists don’t look like professional bodybuilders doesn’t mean they don’t take advantage of the performance-enhancing effects of steroids.

Photo credit: @TheRealAdamM / Twitter


Kaduk, K. (July 26, 2012). Barry Bonds sports a new look with fancy bicycle, slimmed-down appearance. Retrieved from http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/mlb-big-league-stew/barry-bonds-sports-look-fancy-bicycle-slimmed-down-211832336–mlb.html