Just as we have come to expect the occasional announcement of professional athletes implicated in illicit drug use, designed to enhance their athletic performance, we should come to expect the denials that follow. Today, the Miami New Times broke a story about a DEA investigation of a Miami clinic linked to illegal distribution of human growth hormone and testosterone. Numerous MLB players’ names were included in the story as possibly being connected to the clinic. Immediately, players denied using these drugs, either directly or through their agents, spokesmen or team officials.
The names on the latest release are well known: Alex Rodriguez, Bartolo Colon, Melky Cabrera, Gio Gonzalez, Nelson Cruz and others. Cabrera and Colon have already tested positive for drug use and were suspended by MLB, and Rodriguez eventually admitted to using steroids, but only after a complete denial, then a convoluted attempt at an end around, including blaming family members and alleging he didn’t know what the substances he was injecting were.
As an occasional recreational powerlifter, and someone who has toyed around with weight lifting for many years, I am fully aware of the prevalence of steroids even among those with no financial motivation to use them. I’m under no illusion that when millions of dollars are on the line, athletes are going to take whatever they think will help them perform better, regardless of whether there’s a rule book or not. Lance Armstrong’s recent “confession” of using all the drugs he adamantly denied using for decades is just another in a long list of lies from professional athletes at the top of their respective sports.
So ultimately, it isn’t even the drug use that I take issue with. It was clear to me that both Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were juiced to the hilt during their epic chase of Roger Maris’s single season home run record. Years later, when visiting Wrigley Field in July of 2003, I stood no more than 20 feet from Sosa who was on the field stretching and getting loose a few hours before game time. He was in baseball pants and a t-shirt and he was heavily muscled, exceptionally lean and vascular and big as hell. It wasn’t protein shakes and cans of tuna packing the muscle on Mr. Sosa. No, I fully expect that athletes at the elite level in their given sport are using something. Hell, I’ve taken prohormones and various legal supplements to try to increase testosterone production myself, and I’m in the insurance business. I take issue with lies and liars.
If I was a betting man, I’d say there’s a high probability that the players implicated in this latest tale of drugs and highly paid athletes will pan out to be true, and that the players will deny involvement, and deny drug use, until they are forced to admit it at some point in the future. The problem with lies is that they’re awfully hard to keep track of and facts have a nagging way of surfacing in the river of denial.