Can professional athletes ever just be honest and forthright about cheating?

Before I begin, I have to say that the idea for this post was inspired by a conversation I had with a friend this past weekend, while discussing why athletes can’t ever just man up and admit they cheated after they’ve been caught.

There are a lot of pressures facing professional athletes in today’s world. Yes, I am aware of the fact that they make millions of dollars to “play a sport for a living.” But I never understood that argument because the sport that they participate in is also a hundred million dollar industry. If you don’t like it, then find a new line of work where your boss is a billionaire. Then you can get paid too.Steroids

Anyway, athletes need to perform to make money and make a living. They have no choice. So if you know that there are things out there that could give you some type of competitive advantage, wouldn’t you at least be tempted to try it?

I’m not saying it’s right. However, don’t you think that the risk of being unable to feed yourself and your family might outweigh the risks of being branded as a cheater?

That being said, I see both sides of the issue. As a fan, I truly hope that my favorite players are never accused as cheaters. I want to believe that the athletes who play on my favorite teams are squeaky-clean role models and I want them to abide by the rules. My favorite sports team is the New York Mets, and my favorite player is David Wright. if he was ever caught cheating, I would not look at him the same way.

But most of all, what I don’t want my favorite players to ever become — are liars.

Earlier today, Major League baseball player Ryan Braun’s name was found in the records of a biogenesis clinic that has been known to have distributed performance enhancing drugs to a number of athletes. This comes almost exactly one year after Braun tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone, but was never suspended due to a technicality involving the handling of his urine sample.

Ryan BraunSo what does Braun immediately do? Issue a statement, of course.

“During the course of preparing for my successful appeal last year, my attorneys, who were previously familiar with Tony Bosch, used him as a consultant… There was a dispute over compensation for Bosch’s work, which is why my lawyer and I are listed under ‘moneys owed’ and not on any other list. I have nothing to hide and have never had any other relationship with Bosch.”

Well isn’t that just convenient? That’s a quick cover-up story if I ever saw one.

A week earlier,  New York Yankees third basemen Alex Rodriguez — who has previously admitted to using steroids from 2001 to 2003 Alex Rodriguez— was another player linked to the same clinic, but in an even more damning way. A physician of the clinic, Tony Bosch, admitted publicly that he personally sold performance enhancing drugs to Rodriguez.

But what does Alex Rodriguez immediately do? Deny everything. Except he didn’t even have the decency to say it himself. Instead his public relations firm did his dirty work.

“The news report about a purported relationship between Alex Rodriguez and Anthony Bosch are not true. He was not Mr. Bosch’s patient, he was never treated by him and he was never advised by him. The purported documents referenced in the story — at least as they relate to Alex Rodriguez — are not legitimate.

And just a few more days before that, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis denied allegations that he used deer-antler spray Ray Lewisa banned substance — to recover from a torn triceps injury earlier this year.

“I’ve never, ever took what he says I was supposed to do. It’s just sad that someone can have this much attention on a stage this big where the dreams are really real…It’s just very foolish. The guy has no credibility. He’s been sued four or five times over this same B.S. I just truly believe he doesn’t have the privilege for me to speak about it ever again.”

It’s the same old song. When will an athlete finally step up to the plate, and say something along the lines of, “Yes, I cheated. Steroids and other performance enhancing drugs make you physically more talented. Why the hell wouldn’t I use them? I am facing enormous pressures to be productive, I make millions of dollars, and I cheated so that we can win a championship.”

Okay, so maybe they don’t have to be that blunt. But still. If an athlete made this statement, then there would be about a day or two’s worth of articles defaming his legacy. They would be labeled as a “cheater” and a “fraud.” And then it would be over.

They wouldn’t be a liar. And I would respect him for that.

Look at Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds. These guys have been spending their entire lives denying the fact that they’ve used steroids, even though there’s is irrefutable evidence that they did. And where are those two now? They’re essentially blacklisted and outcast from the game, and looked upon in disgust by the general public.

Would the public still be mad at them for admitting they cheated? Of course. But at least that would be the extent of it.

If Lance Armstrong taught us anything, it’s that lying may be the easy thing to do in the immediate short-term, but it is the absolute worst thing you can do in the long-term.

I’m just waiting for that one person to finally freaking man up and be forthright about their cheating. I seriously wouldn’t even be mad. In fact, I would be joyous.

When you are accused time and time again, and deny it every time, you lose any sense of credibility. Not even as an athlete, but as a human. I can’t ever respect you for that. And as I started this blog by saying — it’s not like you committed double murder (Unless you’re Ray Lewis, that is.) You injected yourself with a little bit of testosterone because you wanted to improve your performance. It won’t represent the smartest decision of your life, but it doesn’t make you a shitty person.

Lying constantly to our faces, however, does make you a shitty person.

Choose wisely.

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