Date: Mon, 25 Jun 2012 10:14:25 -0400
From: richard crepeau <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Sport and Society 6-25-12 Clemens et. al.
SPORT AND SOCIETY FOR ARETE
JUNE 25, 2012
It ended last week with the jury foreman announcing to the court that the
jury had found Roger Clemens “not guilty.”
There have been a number of reactions to the decision. Many of the more
self-righteous around the baseball world were quick to point out that “not
guilty” does not mean “innocent,” nor does it mean “drug free.” It does
however mean “not guilty,” and it was clear that for many of these
commentators “not guilty” does not mean “not guilty.” What they have
pointed out is that Clemens was found “not guilty” of lying to Congress
when he told them he had never used steroids or HgH. Clemens of course
believes that “not guilty” means “innocent” and he didn’t do the deed.
The chorus followed, featuring a solo by Dodger manager Don Mattingly, who
denounced the government for wasting all that money, estimated between $3M
and $5M for the two trials. The subtext of this criticism is that no one
really cares about the legal niceties of this case, or even about elite
athletes doping. So much time has passed, four and half years, since
Clemens appeared in Congress that most people have forgotten about it.
That view was given some legs by the fact that two jurors were dismissed
when they nodded off during the trial. In addition the first trial ended
in a hung jury.
Then there are those who denounced the prosecution for botching the case.
Their lead witness, Brian McNamee, who said he injected Clemens with the
substances in question, was spun like a top by Clemens' lawyer, Rusty
Harden. One New York writer, who apparently was fooled by the name “Rusty”
and the Texas accent, described Harden as a bumpkin. The writer must not
have read the bumpkin’s resume. Harden also managed to get Andy Pettitte
to back off from his testimony and say he had only a 50-50 certainty of
his recollection that Clemens told him he used HgH.
The Clemens Case was the second major whiff by federal prosecutors in
recent times. More millions were spent trying to prove that Barry Bonds
used performance enhancing drugs. For seven years the Feds tried to get a
case on Bonds, and the best they could do was a conviction on one count of
obstructing justice. Estimates of the cost of the Bonds case ranged from
$55M to $100M. Bonds was sentenced to 30 days to be served at home, and he
is appealing the conviction. How much is that per day? You do the math.
These two failures are usually linked with the failure of the two two-year
investigation of charges against Lance Armstrong that ended with no
charges being pressed. After watching the Feds fail the U.S. Anti-Doping
Agency has decided to make another run at Armstrong charging that he has
used illegal drugs in the Tour de France. Charging Lance Armstrong with
illegal drug use has become so common that it has taken on the character
of a mantra.
So in the end what does it all mean?
Clearly someone thinks that the use of steroids, HgH, and other PEDs is an
issue that concerns or should concern the public. Maybe it does. It
certainly seems to concern sportswriters and commentators who have an
endless supply of disgust for these athletes. For many people however the
biggest concern seems to be over wasted time and money.
It seems that most people simply take it for granted that there are drug
cheats out there, and those who they conclude are cheats are dismissed by
the public out of hand. There is no need for anyone to do time, to make
public confessions, or to throw dirt on their heads. Sports fans simply
discount these suspect athletes and let it go at that. Baseball players
like McGwire, Bonds, and Clemens, to mention a few, get no respect from
fans and any records they achieved are considered flawed or bogus. That,
for many fans is all that matters. They are presumed guilty.
It is assumed that Clemens was injecting, that Bonds was juicing, and that
Lance Armstrong and nearly everyone who ever rode in the Tour de France
used illegal substances. It really doesn’t matter what happens in
courtrooms. In a sense sports fans share the viewpoint of Judge Kenesaw
Mountain Landis, who after the Black Sox were found “not guilty” said he
was not impressed by “the verdict of juries.” The judge then banned the
players from baseball for life.
At the core of the problem is that all drug use is treated as if it were
the same. A blanket ban is a simple and simplistic drug policy. It does
not require anyone to make difficult decisions and distinctions. It does
not recognize that in some situations a drug might be useful and perhaps
even necessary for an athlete to use. In addition many drugs remain
undetectable and new drugs are constantly entering the field of play.
Further ambiguity is added by the fact that some drugs are encouraged so
that athletes can play with pain.
Pursuing high profile athletes can justify prosecutor’s budgets. Testing
and punishing athletes can employ thousands of people at the World
Anti-Doping Agency and give ex-Olympic officials the feeling of
self-importance. Seeking to ban athletes for PEDs offers authorities a
chance to demonstrate that they believe in “pure” sport, even if that
purity has long since been obliterated by commercial corruption and
It is, in short, a messy business.
On Sport and Society this is Dick Crepeau reminding you that you don’t
have to be a good sport to be a bad loser.
Copyright 2012 by Richard C. Crepeau