My Guilt

This is the absolute worst topic for most sports fans to discuss and probably the most significant: drugs in sports.

Really, in just about every case, the public will never know.

There is only suspicion aside from the few cases where a failed drug test is reported (RARE) or an athlete admits to cheating by using PEDs.

There seems to be evidence that Lance Armstrong had failed some tests and paid to hush, in the past. But ultimately, he had to come clean because of mounting evidence via testimony from others.

Baseball has been practically soiled from PEDs. We continue to enjoy the game, but players are still using as is evidenced by a few failed tests here and there; a recent one makes this claim especially clear and it’s good to see MLB handing out stiffer and stiffer penalties; this guy got an 80 game suspension. Certainly, there are drugs in MLB.

The NFL has had and continues to see player use; denying that is ridiculous given the nature of those athletes and that sport. How much is used? Tough to say.

The NBA and NHL both have cases of drug use, as well. Professional soccer? Of course.

What many serious sports fans acknowledge, here in the States at least, is that suspicion surrounds Tiger Woods, who’s associations with doctors connected to certain MLB users is pretty well documented. But there’s only suspicion. Same goes for Kobe Bryant, who’s trips to Germany for certain treatments have raised a few eyebrows. But, again, just suspicion.

One development in any athlete’s performance that has encouraged suspicion is the incidence of injury. There is pretty decent documentation of how frequent and “early” injury is a corollary of PED use.

The case of Tiger Woods is very interesting in this regard. His collapse is mind-boggling. His bouts of infidelity have clouded the real issue with him: complete physical breakdown at a very young age in a non-contact sport.

But again it’s all suspicion.

Kobe’s physical decline, look it up, has fueled suspicion, as well.

In the end, people look bad having this suspicion. Suspicion is linked to fans who do not like a particular athlete who has success. These “haters” can try to undermine an athlete’s performance and legacy by raising suspicion of PED use.

But either way, “haters” and genuinely suspicious fans alike, will likely, in almost every case, never know.

And the reason we will never really know is that the corruption, we have to acknowledge, in most big money sports is capable of controlling some of this news.

Drug testing protocols and systems are not perfect.

The science of creating drugs and testing for them is an elaborate game of shadows.

We will never know, those of us watching and trying to make sense of these athletes and their games.

Most of the corruption of sport involves the money at stake. There is so much money at stake. Do not not understand this very obvious relationship between money and truth.

We have no idea what is really happening. Yet people will get hammered for raising suspicion.

Just ask the French Minister on the other side of the proverbial net from Nadal.

Him suing her, I think we all know, has no necessary bearing on the truth. He’s fighting for his reputation. Not suing her would have hurt him. He had to sue Bachelot. Period.

But also keep in mind that his request to make public all of his records is another ruse.


Because we will never know. Most of this perception – from these court proceedings, to drug test results, to test histories, passports, and so on, in light of the money at stake and the institutionalized corruption that most of us understand lives and breathes in our lovely naive midsts – is just that: our perception, which has considerable limitations.

We do our best to make sense of it all.

And most likely fail in the process.

Do I want to talk about drugs? Fuck no.

I am suspicious of Nadal’s legacy: a clay courter who got into the “room” with the other greats of this sport. I argue he doesn’t belong. Drugs? I don’t know. I don’t like his tennis, at all. This season’s clay proceedings have been another reminder. He’s a basket case on every other surface.

All of this finger-pointing now with Nadal, from all parties (Nadal, those suspicious of him, his defenders, et al.) really brings up the discussion of PED. And this post is a reminder that PED use in professional sports is . . . EVERYWHERE. We should not be shocked by any of this news, the finger-pointing, the eventual “innocence” etc.

We will never know.

So, sorry to spoil my blog with this very unappetizing garnish that accompanies unfortunately our collective buffet of pro sports. I don’t like the taste either.

I really just can’t wrap my brain around Nadal’s claim to fame.

That’s my guilt.

2 thoughts on “My Guilt

  1. RJ

    We watch the professionals to witness the games we all love to be played at the highest level. There is indeed too much money in sport.

    This blog post has inspired me to call up my mate and have a hit of tennis. We’ll never know what is going on the ATP tour but we can all enjoy playing tennis with friends. Competing earnestly, going for ridiculous shots and having a laugh – the fun inclusiveness purity that is the game.


  2. blackspy

    Excellent articles about doping, answering my earlier question referring to your position on the doping scandals (Sarapova etc). No matter what my opinion on his gameplay may be, I usually like Murray’s comments for their simplicity/sincerity.

    As Zorro (Djokovic) went away to doze off after three month’s hard work, the Horned Riddler (Nadal) resurfaced taking advantage of his opponents inexperience (Thiem) and performing “a masterclass in the dark arts” (BBC blog quote) against weak-minded opponents (Murray).

    Clay is a surface that favours power&patience over technique, since points are won in a pretty specific way, most of the time. Paire and Gulbis (among others) are ambassadors to a different, unorthodox, way to play on it (lots of drop shots, peculiar shotmaking), but their lack of consistency (seriousness?) hurts their case. Your thoughts on the matter?

    Recent titles may indicate so, but I doubt Nadal is truly back. His reduced speed/power can be disguised at times on clay, but will show up right after the season is over. Yet again, he remains a contender in his favored surface. A match-up with Djokovic in Rome or RG (slow clay court) will confirm my theory- if he doesn’t loose earlier; many players are a threat to him currently.

    What I saw in Monfils/Goffin loses (lack of stamina of two in-form players) is the gap in fitness/conditioning which halts seriously their chances. Prize money inequality seems to be affecting the sport a lot lately (e.g. Goffin won 1/7 of his total career earnings within two weeks loosing two semifinals); I have no other reasonable explanation for the average age of the top players/consistent contenders and the stillness of the tour.

    Although Federer is a complete player on clay as well (a bit of mental rust in Monte-Carlo was expected), I doubt he really targets this years FO as he claims (the usual age/stamina/impatience to end points argument). Unless he finds a way to use his aggressive S&V game on clay to reduce match time, I consider his statements to be good publicity and these tournaments (he is trying kamikaze returns on clay!) an excellent preparation for the summer period where his chances lie (hopefully Ljubicic reminds him of the usefulness of his slice too on grass/fast courts). Based on the above train of thought, I expect him to play Madrid (fastest clay Masters 1000) and skip Rome.

    Waiting for your insightful articles in a couple of weeks when Madrid/Rome draws play out (before FO). Keep up the good work, Matt.


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