New York Daily News
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The recipe called for 1/2- cc of testosterone cypionate every three days; one cc of testosterone enanthate per week; equipoise and winstrol v, 1/4- cc every three days, injected into the buttocks, one in one cheek, one in the other.
It was the cocktail of a hardcore steroids user, and it is one of the "arrays" Mark McGwire used to become the biggest thing in baseball in the 1990s, sources have told the New York Daily News.
Long before Jose Canseco claimed he injected McGwire in the behind in his tell-all autobiography "Juiced," the man known as Big Mac denied ever using illegal steroids. But according to FBI sources, McGwire's name came up several times during "Operation Equine," a landmark anabolic steroids investigation that led to 70 trafficking convictions in the early 1990s. No evidence against McGwire or any other steroid user was collected, and one former agent who worked undercover in the case says McGwire was not a target.
But two dealers caught in Operation Equine told the Daily News that a California man named Curtis Wenzlaff provided Jose Canseco and McGwire, among others, with illegal anabolic steroids. One informant in the case says Wenzlaff injected McGwire at a gym in Southern California on several occasions, and established "arrays" of performance-enhancing drugs such as the aforementioned cocktail.
"Curtis was an expert on how to take drugs," one of the informants in the case says. "The West Coast - that was the Mecca of drugs back then. And Curtis was involved with some serious people. Curtis gave me the same cycle that Mark McGwire (allegedly) was on. The best cycle (of steroids) I ever did came from Curtis."
Reached by the Daily News, a former member of the gym where Wenzlaff and McGwire allegedly worked out together - Racquetball World in Fountain Valley, Calif. - said he saw them work out together "maybe five times" and that the two discussed using steroids in his presence.
"No comment," said Wenzlaff when asked to confirm the accounts.
A month-long review by the Daily News of court documents, FBI records and interviews with sources on both sides of the law found that Operation Equine was a massive warning sign of what was to come in the American sports landscape. Dealers like Wenzlaff were befriending ballplayers like Canseco all over the country, and those players were passing on their new-found expertise to friends in the game.
"In hindsight, we could have gotten the big names - (Michigan State lineman) Tony Mandarich, Canseco - the problem is, where do you draw the line?" says Bill Randall, who was the FBI undercover agent during Operation Equine. "You have to remember, there was no benchmark, nothing for us to model the investigation on. We wanted to get to the root of the problem, that's all we were after. We could have hammered Canseco, but again, that wasn't the thrust. And if we had started going after Major League Baseball players, we'd never get up to these big-time dealers."
Representatives for Canseco and McGwire said the former players did not remember meeting Wenzlaff, and were not aware their names came up in the FBI's investigation, although an FBI source provided the News with previous telephone numbers for Canseco and McGwire and a pager number for Canseco from Wenzlaff's old phone book.
"We're not going to comment on anything at this time," said Marc Altieri, McGwire's representative, "but we believe one should consider the sources of such allegations."
"Jose doesn't want to deny knowing him, but he just doesn't remember the guy," said Robert Saunooke, Canseco's attorney."
However, Wenzlaff's longtime friend Reggie Jackson, who Wenzlaff insists never used steroids or knew he was dealing them, says he saw Wenzlaff and Canseco work out and socialize together.
"Yes, they had spent some time together," says Jackson, who met Wenzlaff after his career ended with the Oakland A's in 1987. "Curt's a good guy that got mixed up in steroids at a very young age. He's a good, solid, stand-up guy and he's honest."
Jackson, who let Wenzlaff stay in his Oakland home for long stretches in the late 1980s, says he was not aware that Wenzlaff had allegedly supplied steroids to Canseco or anyone else until last year when Wenzlaff testified before a Senate subcommittee investigating steroid use in pro, college and high school sports.
The two convicted sources who connected Wenzlaff to Canseco and McGwire declined to be named, saying they feared retribution from some of the steroid dealers they informed on. But two FBI sources confirmed the men's identities and said they provided credible information throughout the operation and, like Wenzlaff, avoided jail time for their cooperation. One FBI source also said the men's fears about retribution are well-founded.
"That's why I'm amazed at what Jose said in the book," Wenzlaff says. "There are some people who might come after him."
A man in an overcoat and a sharp charcoal gray suit enters the Old Town tavern in Ann Arbor, Mich., last week, and Wenzlaff recognizes the face instantly.
He extends his right hand to the shorter man with slicked-back black hair and smiles as they share a vigorous handshake.
"Eddie Schmidt," Wenzlaff says.
"I haven't heard that name in a while," the other man says. He grins.
The last time these two men saw each other, "Schmidt" and Special Agent Greg Stejskal were putting handcuffs on Wenzlaff, explaining to him that his life had just changed. Wenzlaff was being charged with conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids and was told he had best cooperate.
"We were in a hotel room in Santa Monica, and all of a sudden there's a knock on the door, and there's (Stejskal)," Wenzlaff says. "I just said, 'Oh, dirty word."'
Schmidt's real name is Bill Randall, and for 33 years he was an FBI agent, based mostly in Ann Arbor. Fifteen years ago he went undercover for two and a half years posing as a Chicago gym owner looking for new steroid connections.
To this day the 70-plus convictions Randall and Stejskal helped secure are considered the standard in steroid law enforcement. The BALCO case, for the sake of comparison, has rocked the sports world and may end up doing far more to change the steroid culture in this country. But in the BALCO case only four men have been indicted; BALCO has drawn far more attention because of the witnesses against those four men, including Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield.
Curtis Wenzlaff is now 41, married, a father of three, working in "strategic alliances" for a renewable energy company and living in Flint, Mich. His hair is almost gone, but he still has the build of an NFL free safety. He still lifts - more than his doctors want him to - and is fanatical about his diet.
He orders a grilled chicken sandwich on a dry bun. He drinks chai tea, but later in the evening will have an Amstel Light.
Wenzlaff doesn't take steroids anymore, he says, unbuttoning his shirt to show a thin white line that runs the length of his sternum. "They cracked my chest three times - open heart," he says.
He told his doctors about all the steroids he had taken - "You don't lie to your doctor, you don't lie to your attorney," he says - and was told he had a congenital problem.
"Unrelated," he says.
As he sits with his sandwich and tea, Wenzlaff says he will discuss one name from his past: Jose Canseco.
"I supplied a bunch of players, but I'm not going to name any other names," he says. "Jose's different because he opened the door with his book."
He will not discuss McGwire or anyone else. But yes, Wenzlaff says, he helped turn Canseco from a dabbler into a maestro of performance-enhancing drugs.
"On a scale of one to 10, he was a four. When I left, he was an eight," Wenzlaff says. He adds that they haven't spoken in years.
"That would square with what Wenzlaff told us," Stejskal told the News last month. "He was sort of Canseco's guru."
Wenzlaff's arrest on July 7, 1992, was the end of a life in steroids that began in the early 1980s when Wenzlaff was playing high school football, he says. He began going to a World Gym in Fountain Valley, Calif., where he met a trainer - he won't identify him - and asked him what steroids could do for his body.
He went to the gym not just with his father's blessing, but with his father, he says.
"I wouldn't go in and train until the gym closed at 10 o'clock at night," Wenzlaff says. "It was a private affair. My dad would be working out and I would come in. This is where I gained all this knowledge."
He would sleep in a sensory deprivation tank for 45 minutes between workouts while his trainer's voice was piped in, telling him to imagine doing leg extensions or some other workout without tiring.
"I mean the water is absolutely body temperature. It's so perfect that you don't know where the water line started on your body. Totally dark. And I was told then - whether this is true or not, I don't know - one hour of sleep is equivalent to six hours solid sleep in a bed. I don't know, but in between workouts, I would sleep in there at the gym."
The after-hours workout group, a catch-all for power lifters, body builders and athletes, was a cult unto itself that made the extreme the norm. The members would tape each other's hands to weight bars, making it impossible to let go. They would lift weights while breathing pure oxygen from a tank.
They also shot up, swallowed and rubbed steroids on their bodies, experimenting with doses and combinations and sharing results. "You could use the term guinea pig on me. There were other guinea pigs that we hung out together and everybody was doing something different," Wenzlaff says.
"And I was one of the first to be trained with a cattle prod."
The cattle prod, he says, was a motivational technique.
"I remember my first night they brought it in I was on the leg extension machine," he says. "They took two weightlifting belts and tied me in so I couldn't get up."
Then he'd start lifting the weight while one of his workout mates counted reps with a hand clicker.
"He'd yell, 'Come on, come on, come on! do more!' I start to slow down," Wenzlaff says. "He would set the cattle prod on my thigh. 'I can't do any more! I can't (deleted) do any more!' ZAP! I did some more."
Eventually, he says, the prod wasn't necessary. His mind had been trained to push his body to new limits.
"It gets you here," he says, pointing to his head.
He earned a football scholarship to Cal State University, kept up the workouts and graduated in 1987. Wenzlaff became a local legend, setting gym power records in multiple categories. That fall, Wenzlaff says a mutual friend introduced him to a baseball player who had just retired after his final season with the Oakland A's, Reggie Jackson.
"I think he was as excited to meet me as I was honored to meet him," Wenzlaff says. "I had every power record in the gym."
Jackson asked Wenzlaff if he would work with him when he returned to town. At the time, Wenzlaff says he was living in his car - "by choice" - because he had a one-way ticket to Hawaii. His plan was to find work in a gym and he knew someone with his expertise would not need to wait long for an opening. But the chance to work with a future Hall of Famer changed everything, he says, and he decided to temporarily move in with a woman he had just met the night before so he could give Jackson a number to call.
"There were no cell phones in those days," Wenzlaff says. "I had to have a number to give him."
Jackson called after a week, and after they began working out together Jackson offered Wenzlaff a job up in the Bay Area as a sort of public liaison. Wenzlaff not only accepted the job, he moved into Jackson's house on and off for several years. California property records confirm they lived on Yankee Hill in Oakland.
Wenzlaff says he never told Jackson about the steroids he used and sold. "No way. He's like a father figure to me. I didn't have a home; I wasn't going to (mess) that up," he says.
It was Jackson who introduced Wenzlaff to the A's, bringing him around during trips to the Oakland Coliseum. Wenzlaff says he visited the clubhouse on several occasions, but said any steroid use took place away from the stadium, in private gyms.
Because of his friendship with Jackson, Wenzlaff says he met professional athletes and actors, turning some into clients he would train.
"Reggie knew everybody," Wenzlaff says.
Wenzlaff claims he provided Canseco with steroids and taught him how to use them properly. They hung out together, chased women together and worked out together for a brief time - he says he can't remember how long - and then Canseco went his own way.
"I was just a small window in his career. That's all," Wenzlaff says.
Stejskal, the agent who told the Daily News last month that he warned Major League Baseball about a rising steroid problem at least 10 years ago, declined interview requests for this story. After he was quoted last month he was told not to speak to the media anymore. But before he was admonished, he told the Daily News what he learned about Canseco during the investigation.
"Canseco was one of those people that we heard would take orders from other people who would say 'Hey, can you get me some of this?' and he would do that. We didn't characterize that as being a dealer. That was just somebody acting as a middle man," said Stejskal, who put Major League Baseball security in touch with Wenzlaff to discuss Canseco's burgeoning steroid allegations about a year ago. "We were a little skeptical at first because Wentzlaff kinda comes off as he has a high opinion of himself. So consequently we weren't quite sure. But as we did some more checking and we were able to get his phone records and things like that, it was clear he did have a relationship with Canseco."
In addition, an undercover agent saw a photo of Wenzlaff with Canseco, recorded Wenzlaff on a wiretap talking about providing steroids to Canseco, and the FBI found Canseco's private phone number in Wenzlaff's phone book after they arrested him.
Stejskal and Wenzlaff actually grew close over the years - "Hey, he kept my a- out of jail," Wenzlaff says - but one area in which they differ is whether steroids have any legitimate role for people who don't have a medical need for them.
Because of his heart problems taking steroids now would be too dangerous, Wenzlaff says, but otherwise, yes, he would still be using them.
"But I don't have anything to prove anymore. I'm not trying to get a scholarship. It was satisfying to walk on the beach and know you look like you could have gone into a bodybuilding contest. That was good enough for me," he says.
"Now, I have no reason to."