Monday, January 7, 2008

Guilty until Proven Innocent: A Debate

There is much to be said about the steroid scandals lately. I have yet to blog about it because at times that would mean talking about people I happen to know very well and I believe that makes me conflicted in certain ways. But I will say right off the bat that I don’t think it’s right, I don’t condone it, and I don’t excuse it. That I can say with certainty. I know that the cloud it has put over my sport has tarnished it severely and that not only saddens me but it also pisses me off.

But right now I’m not going to talk about track specifically or any of our fallen heroes, but a topic that was raised last night when I was watching Roger Clemens on 60 minutes. Supposedly he went on there to defend himself. I believe he failed miserably in that realm but maybe that’s the cynic in me when it comes to this topic. Whatever the case, he raised the point of athletes in this era being guilty until proven innocent when it comes to steroids and such and how that pisses him off that people are so quick to believe his guilt when he’s given so much to the sport, yadda, yadda, yadda. And how are you ever to prove your innocence when all you can do is proclaim it and nobody is willing to listen?

Is that unfair?

Is it not right that we now have come to the point where so many of our role models and sports heroes have been rightfully accused of using performance enhancing drugs, that we can easily roll our eyes when someone wants to come out and proclaim innocence? Because I certainly rolled my eyes at Roger Clemens. I have no problem with the notion of taking his trainer’s word against his when it comes to this subject and I don’t really care if his reputation is tarnished forever and all the public has to go on is one person’s word against another’s. I don’t need a confession, I don’t need evidence, and I don’t need a judge or a jury to agree with me.

A few years ago this might have seemed unjust. If a person could look you in the eye and swear on everything under the bible that they would never, EVER knowingly take steroids and that everything they stood for and believed in was against it, your inclination would be to believe them. For most people, it’s hard to fathom being able to denounce something so passionately and fervently when in actuality it was a bold faced lie. Who could do that? And so convincingly at that? But time and time again we are shown that they can and they will. Lying has become easy. Commonplace.

I get why people take performance enhancing drugs. I do. I think it would be hard to compete in this sport and not understand the enticement of it. I just think it’s wrong. But what I think is more wrong is the complete sabotage of your character once you’ve been caught. I cannot respect (insert whatever athlete name you wish) for proclaiming to be the pure, unadulterated, clean, wholesome, innocent, virtuous, person and act as if you are being so wronged by accusations that are true!

So in my mind they are pretty much all guilty. That might not be the American ideal but it is the sad reality. I just can’t fathom giving any more of these athletes the benefit of the doubt because I have learned that where there is smoke, there is always fire. So save yourself the hassle of the tears, 60-minute interviews, and high-priced attorneys, and just own up to it.

The debate…is it fair that we are now quick to see these athletes as guilty without any real proof besides the word of someone else or should they be given the benefit of the doubt when they claim to be innocent? Please vote and leave your comments if you happen to feel one way or the other—or even if you’re not sure!


Christy said...

Well, obviously it's not "fair" to see it that way - but each person is going to see it how they're going to see it.

Personally, I always try to hold judgment in these cases (as well as celebrity drug/alcohol-related cases). Unless I know first-hand or the person admits it, I have learned to (mostly) withhold judgment (I say "mostly" because I'm quick to disregard pretty much anything that comes out of Lindsay Lohan's mouth when it comes to her "sobriety" - I'll explain further below).

I cannot, even for a milisecond, understand why people do these things in the first place. And I certainly cannot understand why they try to deny (in this day and age) the validity when they know it's true. I just don't get why they would want to subject themselves to that. But I'm not them, so what do I know. To me, they make it all the worse for everyone by dragging out the situation.

As for what prompted me to be more aware of judging people: having spent several years in LA and hanging out with a variety of celebs and pseudo-celebs - I learned VERY quickly the art of people's BS. And I don't just mean on the part of the celebrity. I mean on the part of (what I call) psycho fans. I can't tell you how many times I've read or heard stories about something happening or not happening and I was there to witness the situation and saw the untruth to it all. Two primary examples are: I was at a party one night with some friends. A friend of mine happened to be drumming for a famous band at the time. The party was a great time - nothing too wild or crazy. Simply fun.

The next day I read about a dozen stories about the party that were completely made up. Not to mention the fact that there was another show that night (the night after the party) and people at the venue were discussing "what happened" there. It was the craziest thing. Not one person talking about it was even there - even though I literally heard them explaining it "first hand". WTF?!? Well, when it came to the actual rock star guys - I was like, whatever they have people for that. But when it came to me hearing a blatant lie about my friend, it was time for me to but in and call this chick out on her crap for being such a damn liar.

On the opposite side of that spectrum is people believing celebrities are "innocent" when they're some of the craziest, losers around. LL is a good example of this one. Now I realize that mid-last year ppl actually got to see a LITTLE of her insanity because it played out online and such, but believe me it's been going on for years and for years she and her people have been denying it and most people believer her/them. Not to mention the fact that now that she's "recovering" and back to being all "clean and sober" - people are actually already giving this chick another chance. She needs to be pulled OUT of the limelight for awhile - and when I say awhile - I mean a year at minimum. I don't believe she can heal in the spotlight. I already know of two instances of relapses - and NEITHER of them were made public.

**sorry for the extra long post on your blog**

Teej said...

Interesting point you have there.

I can understand where you are coming from. And you actually BEING a professional athlete more than likey gives you a different and better viewpoint than those of us who merely watch you on TV.

I think you have to at least give them the benefit of the doubt until it is proved.

It occurs to me that the question that begs to be asked is where exactly do you draw the line? Anyone with a grudge that was on the inside somehow could make wild accusations and then this person's image is tarnished for no reason. Like the damn 70 yr old janitor with bad eyes who didnt wear his glasses that day could say as he was mopping he saw such and such take a HGH pill. Do you automatically believe him?

You gotta give 'em the benefit of the doubt somewhere.

Brianna said...

It's interesting that the two people that have commented thus far are non-athletes. (I do appreciate your comments though!!!) I have a feeling that the opinions might be seperated along those lines--ahtletes/civilians--because of our personal experiences.

Most of us want a clean sport. Most of us know that will not happen if we wait for people to actually fail drug tests. Most of us know that there will probably never be an instance where someone is unfairly accused. Nobody is going to rub a cream on your legs that you thought was an anti-inflammatory, give you a shot that you swore was B-12, or have you take pills you thought was for narcolepsy. That's not the reality and if we continue to allow people the benefit of the doubt, the stories will just get more absurd. I know it's not the way justice is supposed to be done, but oh well.

Mes Deux Cents said...


My honest truth is; it depends on who the athlete is.

If it’s an athlete that I really like and admire then I tend to ignore the obvious.

Recently when a certain athlete admitted to using performance enhancing drugs I had to admit to myself that I allowed myself to ignore the obvious. Like whom she was closely associated with and their involvement in using banned substances.

So I'm likely to believe that Roger Clemens is guilty and a total liar but I would be less likely to think the same of someone I admire.

That's the sad truth.

kash p said...

Any time a potential American hero admits to cheating us, the fans who watch and support them it's bitter sweet to watch them fall from grace. It feels like another bad break, and in the end you realize when something seems too good to be true it probably is. I have to agree with you Ms. B, and I think it sucks the the sport seems to suffer the most when it's all said and done.

Kash P said...

Any time a potential American hero admits to cheating us, the fans who watch and support them, it's bitter sweet to watch them fall from grace. It feels like another bad break up, and in the end you realize when something seems too good to be true it probably is. I have to agree with you Ms. B on this one and as an athlete I think it sucks the sport seems to suffer the most when it's all said and done.

Kiajeen said...

I think it becomes difficult to be objective. From the perspective of a former athlete, I just get really pissed when the question even arises. I feel like if the public has to ask, then the athlete probably did it.

Again, I'm sure that comes from a bitter place where I constantly wonder "was that bitch on drugs in high school and college? Did she take my spot?" It's sad because they don't cheat themselves, they cheat other honest athletes.

So, when they are on tv for the tenth time proclaiming their innocence, it usually falls on deaf ears around here. Sad but true...

Christy said...

I definitely get what you're saying...being an athlete you've seen and know much more than the lay person. I still try to live by the whole "innocent until proven guilty" thought process, though. Then again, I was supportive of OJ in the beginning, so what do I know?!? LOL

Hurdle Prince said...

For those that realize how performance enhancing drugs these days are specifically designed to -not show up- on a drug test, and also how far ahead of testing the drugging technology is, this mindset is actually understood and fair.

I also hear many show heavy sympathy for certain athletes who are caught after the tears and alleged apologies but think about the people who should have won those races (in regards to track). Will they get the money they deserve for that victory? And of course you can't go back in time and give them their day on the medal stand, the accolades and intangible memories and experiences to go along with it. I have no sympathy for druggies and in no way do I think it unjust to have that harsh a stance on sports that bring this on themselves.

Anonymous said...

Performance enhancing drugs and the sport of track and field… Here’s the sad reality. No other sport in the world has as much individual pressure as track and field. More so the track portion with emphasis on the events that comes down to 1000ths of a second. You are in a position where you have to do everything absolutely right at that moment and do it as quickly and as efficiently as possible. And even then that may not be enough.

When it comes to drugs our sport, unfortunately, has become the leader in the leader. We are the ones other sports come to for that knowledge, not so much the body builders any more. That’s black eye number one.

Number two. Let’s say someone on last years Super Bowl championship team was caught using steroids. Black eye on him not the team. Simply because the game isn’t won by him alone and the championship stands.

Which brings me to number 3. Someone wins an Olympic gold medal and is later found for steroids. Black eye to them and to the sport. This ONE person represents an entire team by themselves. So it’s not so much one person on a team let you down. It’s more of the entire time let you down.

Going back to the first paragraph. I remember in 1988 Ben Johnson ran 9.79. Amazing! Latter he was found to have taken steroids. Now that may have sounded bad in the media but 2 things happened. 1) 9.79 remained the mark to achieve. Steroids or not it was done and there is not ONE 100 meter runner who hasn’t watched that tape to study and achieve what Johnson did. Not until Maurice Greene ran 9.79 was there something else to look at for that knowledge. 2) Johnson’s coach, Charlie Francis, wrote a book called Speed Trap. Very controversial. Many said Francis was a liar and was just trying to bring others down with him. 15 years later BALCO explodes and Speed Trap almost appeared to The Book of Revelations. Francis told what was happening and BALCO proved it. If Francis was taken seriously and the type of drug protocol put in place in 2003 was implemented in 1989…. Man, I can’t imagine how the 90’s may have looked.

I’m not THAT disappointed in Marion’s drug confession but more disappointed with the essence of it. BALCO, Marion, Tim, Trevor… Let me tell you. These people are in the position they are in because they got greedy and didn’t want to pay the piper his proper dues. And that’s what I’m looking at.

Now steroids are being handled differently in testing and the chances of getting caught are greater. Still no test for HGH. And once that Sweeney experiment hits the black market (if it hasn't already) it’s all over. Did I just say that?

Brianna said...

Hurdle Prince...totally agree with you.

Anonymous--even though I am pretty sure I know who you are :)...thank you for the comment. You have a lot of good insight. And the sweeney experiment huh??? Oh boy.

Anonymous said...

At least Roger Clemens got to get on "60 Minutes"...didn't see Vick, Bonds, Canseco, or Jones on there being able to defend themselves, they just had the book thrown at 'em. C-O-N-spiracy!