By: Jamie Samuelsen
Back in the 1980’s, after Ben Johnson was stripped of a gold medal at the 1988 Summer Olympics, Saturday Night Live did a sketch called the “All-Drug Olympics”. The premise was simple. Instead of drugs being banned, they were encouraged.
Again, that was 1988!
Here we are 25 years later, and the joke still works (even if Dennis Miller’s hair doesn’t).
As we plod through story after story of Lance Armstrong, Alex Rodriguez, Ray Lewis and Ryan Braun, our eyes sort of glaze over. I’m at the point now where I don’t even care about an athlete’s innocence or guilt. So when I read that Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta is now under suspicion for his involvement with the same practice in Florida where Rodriguez and Braun are being linked, I couldn’t even feign outrage or shock.
First of all, I now assume that every single player accused of using performance-enhancing drugs is guilty. I’m well aware that’s an un-American point of view. But realistically, how often is someone exonerated?
Secondly, the list of the accused and the guilty is so long, that I can’t even remember who’s clean and who’s not.
When I hear a radio show or ESPN talking about PED’s, I turn the channel. When I see an article online, I click right by. The debate will never end. The investigation will always go on. And athletes will always be able to find some new and exotic way to get an edge. (Deer antler spray? Really??)
So here’s my proposal. Granted – it’s a radical one and has a zero percent change of ever being enacted, but it’s worth a try.
Allow steroids, HGH and any other PED that an athlete or a trainer can get his hands on. Every player in every sport would have to sign a disclaimer with a physician and a lawyer understanding the physical risks of any drug that he or she is putting into their body. And they’d also have to understand that they might lose years off their careers, endorsement money and the respect of their fans and competitors. And even if they eclipse certain records (like Barry Bonds did with the single season and all-time home run records), those achievements won’t get the same merit and reward that come when they’re broken cleanly.
I suppose the system that I’m proposing is the system that we live with now. The rules haven’t stopped anyone from doping and they don’t appear to be stopping them now. Armstrong firmly told Oprah that he didn’t dope upon his return to the Tour de France after his first retirement. But now we learn that’s a Tour de Farce. ARod apologized to his teammates and fans for his steroid transgressions in 2009. Then he apparently went right back to it.
It’s the story that has no end. And I honestly believe that it’s the story that has very little care factor. Most members of the media are obsessed with it. Most fans couldn’t care less anymore.
I’m just looking for a way to end it, one and for all – understanding that such a mission is truly impossible.