I’ve had it. Enough is enough. I am sick and tired of picking up the newspaper and reading about yet another world-class athlete testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Do today’s athletes honestly believe that they must take drugs to compete at the highest level? And what makes them so arrogant to think they can get away with it? Further, has it gotten to the point where we, as fans, can no longer celebrate any athletic achievement without questioning its validity?
For many years, I remember hearing only about track and field athletes or swimmers testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. After that there were some football players and maybe a gymnast or cyclist here and there. Then the steroid scandal swept through Major League Baseball and got everybody talking. Barry Bonds is still making news as critics try to discredit his performances and taint his home run record chase.
Lance Armstrong’s seven Tour de France victories will always be questioned. Add to that the numerous cyclists who were banned for positive drug test results before this year’s Tour de France and, of course, the recent Floyd Landis controversy. The cycling world may never recover. Then, track and field took another blow as Justin Gatlin, the reigning Olympic and world 100-meter co-champion, tested positive for steroids and may be banned from the sport for life.
As with Landis, Gatlin is claiming that he never knowingly used any banned substance or authorized anyone else to administer such a substance to him. Sound familiar? Bonds has also claimed that he hasn’t knowingly taken any performance-enhancing drugs. Could they really not know what supplements they are taking, what creams they are rubbing on their bodies or what drugs are being injected into their veins?
This is where it gets tricky for me. Being a former pro athlete, I can honestly say that yes, there are situations where an athlete may not know what he is being given. If a trainer, nutritionist or doctor that you trust gives you something to take for an ailment, you are not going to run to a lab to have it tested. Your focus is on training and competing.
That being said, in today’s world and with the recent emphasis on testing for performance-enhancing drugs, an athlete would be stupid not to question anything and everything that they are taking, eating, rubbing or injecting. I honestly believe that there are some athletes who do not know they are being given illegal performance-enhancing drugs, and then, I think, there are the cheaters.
They know it, they did it on purpose and they don’t deserve to win. I hope we catch and ban every one of them.
Former Warriors star and Hall of Famer Rick Barry hosts the noon-3 p.m. talk show on KNBR (680 AM). E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.