New year off to a bad start in world of sports

Jan. 18, 2013 @ 04:38 PM

The world of sports is not off to a very auspicious start in 2013. Before the year is even a month old, some of the biggest names in sports history have come up for all the wrong reasons. Unfortunately, the reason is all too common in sports anymore — steroids.
Since the new calendar flipped its first page, icons named Lance Armstrong, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens have been in the headlines for their association with performance enhancing drugs. Remember, all three guys are and have been retired from the their respective sports for years. Armstrong pedaled his way to seven straight Tour De France titles, but none lately. Bonds and Clemens haven’t stepped on a baseball diamond in five years. Yet they’re as relevant as ever.
These men, and other athletes like them, are tainted goods. Despite all their achievements, and the list is impressive, Armstrong, Bonds and Clemens forever will be remembered as cheaters for their involvement with steroids. Making the situation even worse is that none of them ever have tested positive for PEDs. Armstrong finally admitted to using steroids following a decade long lie that included lawsuits and bullying against anyone who tried to tell the truth. He repeatedly denied any and all accusations that he used the “juice” and made his name on the fact he survived cancer and rode to cycling’s highest level imaginable. No man ever had won seven straight Tour De France titles. It’s not even close.
Armstrong’s story inspired people all over the globe, and his foundation, Livestrong, raised millions of dollars for cancer awareness. He truly was an American icon, made out as someone being harassed for something he never tested positive for. I was one of the people who felt that way. I was wrong.
It turns out Armstrong did in fact cheat. He did lie.
As someone who defended this man, the fact he used steroids isn’t what bothers me most. Cycling is a corrupt sport littered with cheaters. Armstrong wasn’t the first or last cheater, he was just the biggest. My problem is the bullying and the lawsuits over the years. It’s one thing to deny allegations and fall back on the negative drug test results. But to attack people so vehemently for telling the truth is despicable.
Livestrong’s impact on so many people can’t be underscored. Anyone who has been affected by cancer knows how important foundations like that are. The world needs more of them.
What Armstrong has done is devalue the best thing he had going. I find it hard to believe that Armstrong’s recent admission of guilt will help any fundraising efforts.
In the end, who suffers?
The people who actually need some help.
Armstrong will be fine. His pride and public perception may have taken a blow, but he’s not waking up today getting ready to go work in a factory somewhere.
Much of the same goes for Bonds and Clemens. Both made millions of dollars in their Hall-of-Fame careers. Their achievements are parallel to none. Bonds is the all-time homerun king and Clemens won seven Cy Young awards. An old man should be putting the finishing touches on their Cooperstown plaques right now.
Thanks to steroids, that’s not happening any time soon.
Bonds and Clemens were eligible for induction into the Baseball Hall-of-Fame this year. Like other cheaters before them — Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro — Bonds and Clemens were denied their place amidst baseball immortality. Voters did not overlook the steroid factor. Baseball writers elected to hold users of performance enhancing drugs accountable, and the result is some of the sport’s biggest stars now are Cooperstown outcasts, no more than footnotes and asterisks in record books.
In the end, who suffers? The sport itself.
Picture Canton, Ohio, with no Joe Montana or Springfield, Mass., with no Michael Jordan. Doesn’t seem possible, does it? That is where steroids have left baseball.
Fathers are left to explain the steroid age to their children, to answer why the all-time homerun hitter is not in the hall-of-fame. Baseball is left to defend its “records” and who should be placed where among the greats based on numbers.
What sport does that?
Oh, that’s right, cycling and track and field, sports constantly linked to steroids.
Hopefully the day returns when athletes are remembered more for their talents than the size of their syringe. An entire generation is growing up in a world where steroids in sports are commonplace. When children start losing faith in their heroes, they grow up to lose faith in the sport.
We all love heroes. Can’t we just have some that don’t lie and cheat?
Is that too much to ask anymore?
Lets all hope 2013 turns into more of what good there is in the world of sports instead of all that’s bad.
There still is 11 months to go. We have hope.
 
Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or duke@tvilletimes.com.