Tuesday, March 8, 2016

PED mania

Fair warning, first off, as another busted athlete serves up the requisite mea culpa: This is not where you want to be if you want to hear someone call Maria Sharapova a cheater.

The Blob ain't playin' that tune. The Blob, in fact, personally doesn't give two hoots if Sharapova tested positive for a banned substance at the Australian Open or not.

The Blob doesn't give two hoots because, in its world, Sharapova is guilty of nothing but inattention and insufficient calendar watching. This does not make her the Al Capone of women's tennis. It makes her a young woman treating a chronic medical condition with a legal medication under the supervision of her doctor.

That's who Sharapova was up until midnight on Dec. 31. A second later, if you follow the ludicrous narrative, she became a drug cheat.

No. Sorry. That dog won't hunt with me.

I'm not going to accept that just because the medication Sharapova had been on for 10 years became a "banned" substance a second after midnight, that she's any less upright or legitimate an athlete than she was a second before midnight. She's the same person. She has the same value system, or so I would assume. The fact she got up on her own accord and announced the failed drug test suggests as much.

Could she be lying? Could she have been using meldonium, the drug in question, for its apparent PED properties and not, as she says, for diabetes and a magnesium deficiency?

I suppose. But I doubt it. The ease with which you could verify her story makes me think she's being honest about why she's been using a drug that -- again -- was perfectly legal until a second after midnight on Jan. 1.

It's on her that she didn't check the drug list before continuing to use the medication in question. She owned that. She apologized for it. That says far more about her than whether or not she forget to check some list.

The real crime here, frankly, is that none of the above seems to matter. Our national mania over PEDs has reached such comic heights that Sharapova has already been branded a cheater by some, and in fact has already lost two sponsors, Nike and Tag Heuer. Which says far more about the spineless groupthink of Nike and Tag Heuer than it does about Sharapova.

Listen. I get the outrage over Alex Rodriguez. I get the disgust with that sociopath on wheels, Lance Armstrong. I even get the revulsion for Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, so many others.

But to lump Maria Sharapova in with them, as Nike and Tag Heuer seem to be doing, is like squeezing Johnny Manziel and Johnny Unitas into the same breath. It's absurd. It's ridiculous. And it says nothing good about our ability to put PEDs in a proper context -- or, for that matter, our ability to put anything in a proper context these days.

The Blob will at least try in this case. Fair warning.

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