Today I am feeling a little like Al Pacino’s character Michael Corleone in the Godfather Part III when he uttered this classic movie line, “Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in”. I thought when the BALCO firestorm hit it would put an end to the steroids story. That instead fueled even more stories. I thought when Jose Canseco came out with his book Juiced that we had heard the last we would about steroid use in professional sports. That of course didn’t happen and the rumors and innuendo continued. Then I thought when George Mitchell released the infamous Mitchell Report that we would finally be able to put the steroids storyline to rest but again that has not happened. Now today I find myself staring at the local sports page and again find the bold headlines of steroids usage and how it may have influenced the outcome of a sporting event. Is this ever going to go away?
I briefly thought about just skipping the news item and going right to the box scores but I just couldn’t. Curiosity got the best of me and I had to read the story and its torrid details. An athlete with the initials of “BB” had been on a regular program of taking steroid supplements. During this use he had been able to be stronger and recover quicker from injury than would have otherwise been possible. While the steroids were touted as a way to recover from injury they had the effect of making him stronger and produced results that led to a better winning percentage. Other athletes and their personal trainers were in an uproar and felt the athlete and his team should be reprimanded and any wins should be stripped since they were at an unfair disadvantage due to the drug use. The athlete’s representative went on record in saying that there were no sport rules in place during the time that “BB” took the drugs that precluded their use. Sport officials are expected to ratify rules that will tighten the loophole that the athlete and his training staff had found and hopefully rid the sport of all performance enhancing substances. The athlete ceased taking the steroids and inexplicitly saw his performance drop by substantial levels. Opponents immediately felt vindicated and pointed to the results that steroid use had a direct result and any accomplishments by the athlete should be stricken from the records. Throughout this whole ordeal the athlete has chosen not to speak to the media instead letting team officials and teammates speak on his behalf. For now the public is left to determine in their own minds whether steroid use was the reason for his success. Perhaps sometime in the future “BB” will choose to come forward and give his side of the story. Until then Big Brown will have to live with the notion that he will forever be connected to another purported steroid user. Maybe Barry Bonds can offer Big Brown some pointers on how to deal with media when the inevitable question comes around as to what it feels like to be such a prominent figure that has never won his sport’s biggest price. Then again maybe Big Brown can give Barry Bonds some pointers on how to get paid for being a prime stud.