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Friday, January 18, 2013

Pushing The Lance Boulder Down The Hill

The elephant is in the room riding a tandem and twirling a soccer ball on his trunk, and only CNN last night got a glimpse of it.  It’s bigger than Oprah.  It’s bigger than Lance’s ego.  I watched Mike and Mike on ESPN this morning.  While they summarized the interview well, they quickly breezed through and went right on to the bigger, easier and tastier story of the day, the poor Notre Dame football player who got catfished.  I don’t blame ESPN.  It has to hurt when the self proclaimed world wide leader in sports gets scooped by Deadspin, the world wide leader in telling Donald Trump to go F himself.  Not to mention, catfishing a college football player is way more interesting to the majority of viewers than doping in a sport that only makes the news for three weeks in July.  But, what if there’s a bigger fish to fry?

My TOC Photos Take on New Meaning
What if there is systematic doping in Soccer, Football, Baseball, Basketball…sports where the money is bigger, the fame more intoxicating and the rules are way more lax?  What if your kid, your nephew, the high school phenom next door doesn’t have a shot at making the team unless Mom starts making room in the fridge pronto to store some blood?  On Oprah, you may see a mature man in his early 40’s, but think about how young he was when it started to get real.

Who’s asking these questions Sally Jenkins?  Isn’t it obvious that if Lance says he saw himself as being on a level playing field, that this is way bigger than we can imagine?  C’mon it’s cycling.  By salary comparison, most cyclists don’t make in a career what most football players make in a year.  Still, Lance alludes to a peloton 200 or so deep, all with their doctors and support staffs systematically doping, for at least 7 years.  Doping has to be engrained deeper in other sports.  Maybe that’ll come out on part two tonight with the 2nd place world wide leader in sports, the Oprah Winfrey Network.

What's behind those drawn shades?
Let me help pull the wool jersey from over their eyes.  It couldn’t have stopped with Lance.  It couldn’t have stopped with baseball player hearings on Capitol Hill.  It must be still happening.  It can’t be one or two bad apples.  It’s has to be orchards upon orchards.  Sure cycling now has the biological passport and out of competition testing, but come on.  They don’t do a whole lot of that in football or baseball, where penalties are measured in days not years.  I’ve never seen a doping control tent at a ball game stadium.  History has shown us that doping has a way to stay a wheel length ahead of the knock on the door.  It can’t be only cycling.  Who’s shining the light on soccer, football, baseball, basketball?  Who’s nosing around those doctor’s offices?  Who’s swinging by the baseball team locker room for a look?  What’s going on in the college team hotel before the big game?  What are those kids really doing after school?

Damn I Loved George
Maybe it is up to Deadspin to dig it up and steal some more world wide thunder.  Last night we saw the fastest guy from the fastest team admit to years of systematic doping.  While Lance danced around giving “the look” to specific others, journalists could pull up any team roster from any sport and find some names, players, doctors, trainers to start with.  February sweeps are right around the corner.  If anything, Lance proved it’s not a witch hunt and more likely shooting fish in barrel. 

When you discover that doping likely didn’t come to a magical halt with cycling in 2005, and probably takes place in other sports, sports with crazy rock star money, sports with much more lax penalties for doping, then you’re getting at something.  Then take a look at how these athletes get to the pro level.  Who missed the cut?  Who’s next in line to make the pro jump?  Look at the feeder leagues.  Look at college sports.  Seriously, take a look at high school. 

Right now there are talented 14 year old kids out there who might have a chance to go pro, only they need to be much bigger, much faster and have much more endurance to compete with all the drug users and enablers that currently occupy the team rosters and staffs.  Put your arm around one of those kids, read the “side effects” of EPO, Testosterone, and Steroids and ask yourself, does it really matter if everyone is doing it?

Or, you could just run with this catfish thing.  

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