Mark Fainaru-Wada joined ESPN in November 2007 as an investigative reporter for ESPN’s Enterprise Unit, which is charged with developing long-form, investigative features to be presented across multiple platforms.
The San Francisco-based Fainaru-Wada contributes to all aspects of ESPN’s news and information programming, including SportsCenter, Outside the Lines and as well as ESPN.com and ESPN Radio.
He currently is working with his brother and ESPN colleague, Steve Fainaru, on a book about the NFL and brain damage, to be published in the fall by Crown Arhcetype, a division of Random House. As well, the PBS program Frontline, in partnership with ESPN’s Outside the Lines, is producing a documentary based on the reporters’ research. Over the past year, the brothers have presented a series of investigative and enterprise stories on the topic for various ESPN platforms.
Fainaru-Wada’s notable work for ESPN has included breaking the story, along with colleague T.J. Quinn, that Ryan Braun had tested positive for steroids; an investigation into the Dallas Cowboys use of factories that employ workers in sweatshop conditions to make team apparel; an examination of the relationship between the demise of physical education in the public schools and the nation’s child obesity crisis; and an analysis of the impact of the economy’s collapse on grass-roots sports in small-town Wisconsin.
Previously, at the San Francisco Chronicle, the work of Fainaru-Wada and colleague Lance Williams on the BALCO steroids case earned them a string of national honors, including the George Polk, Edgar A. Poe, Dick Schaap Excellence in Journalism and Associated Press Sports Editors awards. In March 2006 Fainaru-Wada and Williams published “Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal That Rocked Professional Sports,” which became an immediate New York Times best-seller and prompted Major League Baseball to launch an investigation into steroid use in its sport.
In May 2006, Fainaru-Wada and Williams were issued subpoenas to testify before a grand jury investigating the source(s) of some of the information they published in The Chronicle and their book. The reporters vowed not to reveal their sources and were appealing their sentence of up to 18 months in prison when the government dropped the subpoenas.
He previously worked for the San Francisco Examiner, for which he wrote enterprise stories and covered Stanford football and men’s basketball. He also was a national sportswriter for Scripps Howard News Service, covering the Masters, Wimbledon and the Final Four. He has worked at the National all-sports daily, the Los Angeles Daily News and the Knoxville (Tenn.) News-Sentinel.
Fainaru-Wada is a graduate of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism.
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