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Do You Hear That Noise Barry? That’s Fate Walking Up On Your Career
Marian Jones is now the latest BALCO client to have her career end in controversy. Let me jog a few memories in case no one remembers anything about the Bay Area Laboratories Co-Op case that is almost a part of our societal landscape in sports. When you start examining the hierarchy of this once proud institution of cheaters, you realize that the track and field wing was pretty dominant at one time. Just look at the clients that Victor Conte had in the Bay Area who were Olympian caliber runners: Kelli White, Tim Montgomery, C.J. Hunter and Marian Jones. When I wrote the piece “The House that BALCO Built”, it was during a time when things were fishy near Alcatraz and Pier 39. Let’s realize something for a moment. Anyone who was testifying at that grand jury hearing had to know at least two things: either I’m clean and I’m ratting out a competitor and I’ll gain an edge in competition with him/her gone or I’m guilty as sin and sooner or later the United States Anti-Doping Agency will be coming for my own career. Even with immunity from the federal government, that didn’t necessarily mean you were going to be safe down the road. Case in point, ask White what happened to her career and she’ll tell you that she cheated. Ask C.J. Hunter, Jones’ ex-husband and he’ll probably not want to talk about his own career in which he was a big steroid user but is now working with college athletes as a trainer. Better still let’s ask former boyfriend Tim Montgomery and Hunter together about Jones’ drug use.
Jones has flunked a drug test back in June and the reason for all of this conjecture is that it may be possible that Conte was telling the truth a while back. Conte told ABC’s “20/20” in December of 2004 that he had supplied Jones with steroids including EPO. Jones and her lawyers later sued Conte and he recanted but now with this new revelation of a possible drug test failure, it seems that Jones may not be so truthful after all. And let’s add to this story line the fact that Justin Gatlin, another track star, has failed a drug test and Floyd “too much testosterone” Landis has failed his test at the Tour de France. In America this doesn’t seem like a big deal but if you start reading the European papers, you’ll see that many Europeans do not like the American sports stars at all because of all of this cheating.
Which now brings me full circle back to Bonds himself. I have always contended that if Barry really wanted all of this to go away, all he had to do at the very beginning was to denounce that he had never taken any performance enhancing drugs and be willing to be subjected to as many medical probes as it took to clear his name from the BALCO regime. Instead Bonds wants to try and play hardball and that is not something you want to do when your career is literally on the line. Let’s put the steroids accusation in Pandora’s box for a moment and let me play a Texas lawyer for the prosecution. If the feds really want Bonds, I continually contend that you lock up Greg Anderson just because he wants to be a complete lap dog and you basically send the IRS agents in and have them go over Bonds’ financials with a fine tooth comb. Is anyone listening to me up in San Francisco on this? You won’t get Bonds on anti-doping because Major League Baseball protects him. That’s the golden goose. But if you just want to bust his chops, take the tax evasion angle and let’s see where it leads.
Now does that mean that the feds may not be able to get Bonds on a steroids conviction? Not from their angle. That’s why you let the USADA do their job and you threaten Major League Baseball with another investigation by Congress and let the politicos like John McCain toy with the pulling of the anti-trust exemption. You get the USADA involved on the drug testing procedures and watch what happens. Bonds will retire the moment that agency comes in. Why can I make such a claim/ Well it’s quite simple. What the USADA has is a weapon in investigating till they find something. How long did it take them to finally catch up to Jones? About two years or so. How long did it take them to catch up with Hunter, White, Montgomery and others in the track and field world? About a year to two years. How long do you think this entity will find something on Bonds that will stick and force baseball purists to look at his numbers in a totally new light? Try about two to three years.
That is what Bonds and others who had a BALCO link are fearing right now. And it’s going to be “click, clack” until Bonds realizes that he can’t cheat his way through life anymore. And it will be that sound that’s heard until there’s a resolution of this issue, an admittance of guilt or innocence and/or a satisfactory result that puts this part of the BALCO case to bed.
JONES, PART II: DEFINATE BLACK EYE FOR TRACK AND FIELD We won’t know the results of Jones’ “B” sample from a June test but this is still a black eye for the sport of track and field. Whether our track athletes realize it or not, because they are making money overseas, they are a reflection of this country and right now what the world sees is a bunch of cheaters. In Europe, there is no other place in the world where you can go over and make good money and have the adoration of thousands of appreciative onlookers. U.S. track and field stars have cultivated Europe to the point to where it’s the place to make your money and still come back to the States a winner.
But now with Jones caught up in an EPO scandal, with Gatlin being looked at as a liar to many who thought he was going to be the bright hope for the sport, and the countless others who will be coming forth in failed tests, the great European melting pot is fast becoming the bubbling caldron of disdain. One British tabloid wrote this past week that, “The Americans earn all their money in Europe, but it is clear that the rules are not being respected in America in the same way that they are here”. The comments came from Hansjorg Wirz, the Zurich promoter and an influential figure on the world governing body, the IAAF. Wirz’s comments are from an article that appeared in a Scottish paper and it is definitely a sentiment that is spreading across Europe.
Probably what is so troubling is that in America we like to poke our chests out like we are the world’s biggest country of following the rules when it comes to athletics but we are not willing to hold our athletes accountable. Wirz’ comments come in lieu of a motion in front of the IAAF in Beijing this week and he will definitely be pushing for an exclusion of countries that do not ban their athletes immediately upon learning of a failed result.
Many people want to say that these athletes deserve due process and that is why the “B” sample is so vital to that process. That may be all well and good but why should we be protecting a bunch of cheaters in sports? There is no doubt that an athlete can medically test for an abnormality after a urine test and after it is found that maybe the athlete took a cough syrup or prescribed medication, that athlete should be cleared. But when we are talking about professional athletes who have taken performance enhancers and they know they have taken them, there should be no more due process to prolong their careers.
In the face of the world’s views on this issue, the sanctity and nobility of the American athlete is at stake all because there are those who would rather cheat their way into the record books rather than just bust their humps and do what is necessary to train right, compete hard and let the chips fall where they must. Right now with Jones now caught up in this doping scandal, the world is looking at the United States and wondering how much cheating is a norm in this country. To be honest, it might be time that we all look at this situation in the same light as the Europeans are doing right now. Doping in athletics is a big problem in this country and we are nowhere near solving it any time soon.