Roger Clemens – Steroids or Lies which is worse?

Sports DopingI’m happy to say that I’d all but forgotten the government’s misguided attempt to prosecute Roger Clemens for lying to Congress in their investigation of performance enhancing drugs. But, the news of his acquittal brought it back in full force and I thought I’d use my considerable blogging power to shed some light on the subject.

Basically, there are very few admirable people in this entire mess. The fact that athletes used and continue to use performance enhancing drugs, illegal or not, is not arguable. It is currently taking place and was in the past as well.

Let’s trace the roots of this disaster and look at it from a Libertarian, critical thinking point of view.

As always, Wikipedia has an excellent article that traces performance enhancing drugs in sports. There is evidence of “doping” in antiquity using plant extracts and laudanum or opium were used in walking races, popular in England around the early 1800s. Bicycle racing has long been immersed in drugs. There is no question that performance enhancement drugs have been around for a long time.

The National Football League was dependent on anabolic steroids in the 1970’s and the Pittsburgh Steeler championship teams of that era are often referenced as the first truly organized steroid abusers.

I don’t want to get into a big debate who was using and who wasn’t because it’s my absolute belief that the vast majority of athletes used, and continue to use, performance enhancing drugs. The detection methods are far behind the masking techniques.

What I do want to talk about is both the government’s involvement in prosecuting athletes and the lies athletes tell. Not many winners in this conversation I’m afraid to say.

I have no idea why Congress is asking questions of athletes about their use of performance enhancing drugs. Well, that’s not true. I do know why. They are looking for publicity. Look at me! I took on those evil cheaters! Look, at me! Vote for me! I made football clean! Nonsense of course. The government and the legal system in general shouldn’t be involved in these prosecutions. The professional sports leagues can monitor themselves. If people don’t want to watch or pay for the games because of such performance enhancement then the league must address it. If the people keep paying then so be it. I sort of like what weight lifting has done with an Open Division where doping is accepted and a Free Division where athletes are tested.

Now, how about Roger Clemens, Floyd Landis, Lance Armstrong, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, and the countless horde of others dragged before Congress. Most of them choose to lie. Nice. Their parents taught them well. Great example for their children. I hope you’re proud Roger, Lance, Barry, Sammy, and rest. Of course one other choice is to not lie but not tell the truth, I have some respect for Mark McGuire.

Finally, you can decide that coming clean is the most honorable strategy. Well done Marion Jones! Of them all, I respect you. Of course, they threw her jail. Great message. When they lie – prosecute, which is all but impossible, and fail. If they tell the truth, jail! Marion Jones tells the truth and her awards are taken from her. She goes to prison. The rest of them shine their trophies, smile and lie, tell their loyal fans lies, lie to their children. It makes me sick. Not that Marion Jones is squeaky clean in all of this. But compared to Clemons, Bonds, Sosa, Armstrong and the rest I save my respect for her.

And Congress, you’re no better than the Clemens and the rest. Hang your head in shame. Go home and don’t come out again. Blah. What a disaster.

Let’s all just be adults and face reality. Clemens cheated. Armstrong cheated. McGuire cheated. They all cheated. But, if they all were cheating wasn’t the playing field level? Wasn’t Clemens a great pitcher? Bonds a great hitter? Armstrong a great bicyclist? Of course they were. They did something everyone else was doing. Their bodies may well suffer long-term consequences but they chose their fate. Can’t we all just be honest about this? Forget about putting people in jail or keeping them out of the Hall of Fame. They were all doing it!

Grow up! Fans, grow up. You’re favorite player likely cheated.

Grow up! Players, grow up. Admit what happened and move on with your life in a way you can look your children in the eye.

Grow up! Congress. Stop trying to win elections and start trying to fix this country!

I’m done now.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
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