The mistake was an easy one to make. It wasn't Alberto Contador, world's greatest cyclist, who took performance-enhancing drugs.
It was a cow.
I guess that's the best way to describe Contador's defense. He failed a doping test while winning the Tour de France this summer. And now that the cycling federation and anti-doping agencies have made it official, he begins his fight back. His Tour title might be taken away.
What is his defense? He says he failed the test from eating a tainted steak.
Give me a break. I mean, really. I can use one. A break. We all can. I've grown numb to the whole steroid thing. How often can we build up outrage over the same thing, yell and scream over the same problem?
It doesn't go away. At this point, it will be a bigger story when a Tour de France winner, or any outstanding sports champion, is not busted for doping or steroids.
"I think this is going to be resolved in a clear way,'' Contador said in a news conference. "With the truth behind you, you can speak loud and clear, and I am confident justice will prevail.''
It has gotten to the point where cycling is clearly a phony sport. Its credibility is gone. But sports in general are all tainted with no way out.
I know that not all athletes are cheaters, but how do you go on cheering for any sport when its best athlete will necessarily carry a suspicion?
On top of that, who is watching the watchers, anyway? I don't trust the World Anti-Doping Agency. It's hard to see who WADA answers to.
And last year, tennis player Yanina Wickmayer was busted for doping when she had neither failed a test nor missed one.
She said the Flemish anti-doping agency that busted her hadn't informed her of her responsibilities. I asked that agency, which not only wouldn't talk about her case but also wouldn't say how it informs athletes in general.
WADA recognized the agency's ruling. But when I asked WADA how the Flemish agency informs athletes, it didn't know or wouldn't say.
So you can't trust the cops or the robbers, and can't identify the innocent bystanders.
In the end, it's possible that Contador's story is actually true. It's also possible that after he was busted, he did a Google search to see if there could be any other explanation for why he had the stuff in his system.
The games do seem to go on. No one really believes that all those 350-pound football players got that way naturally. Do you feel that baseball is clean now, or do you just try to close your eyes and enjoy a beautiful game anyway?
I was in Colorado this summer, and saw Rockies fans absolutely loving Jason Giambi. Surely they know that he was big and bulky and cheating years ago. Then, he shrank down and wasn't nearly as good. Now, he's big and bulky again.
He might have found new, safe, clean ways to get there, but you have to have doubts, and it cannot be resolved in a clear way. Yet, Rockies fans love him.
Sports fans are resorted to holding their noses while cheering for their passions.
As for the cheating athletes, they must be holding their own noses, too.
Or, they are just used to thinking that winning is everything, and don't see doping as cheating at all. Instead, it's just part of the strategy of being a winner. Reward people who do everything possible to win.
Or maybe they are just after the money and fame, and not overly concerned with the joy of sport.
So you keep fighting the fight, mostly because steroids have filtered down, and now many states have mandatory testing for high school athletes. Of course, that means junior high kids are doing it, as parents and overly excited coaches push for greatness.
It's actually a national health issue. But the fight is unwinnable.
Contador, who has won the Tour de France three times, might lose this year's and get a two-year ban.
One by one, all titles and trophies are taken away until eventually, sports will never have happened in the first place.
Contador was found to have a tiny amount of clenbuterol in his system. It helps to build muscle and burn fat, and also helps with breathing. That would seem to be a perfect drug for a cyclist.
But he says the food was bad during the race, so his team's chef got some steak from Spain. Contador, who is Spanish, says he has told WADA where the steak came from. Officials have said that there is no evidence that you can get clenbuterol in your system by any other means.
Yet a quick look on Wikipedia shows that in 2006 and in 2009, large numbers of people in China suffered food poisoning after eating pork that contained clenbuterol.
Apparently, that's more of an issue in Asian countries than European ones. But who knows about Spanish cows?
So we're on the path now to getting this resolved in a clear way.
Sorry, this race has no finish line.
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