July 18, 2013

Direct Kick: Gay, the latest fall from grace

By Denis House
Sports Editor

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — As Major League Baseball prepares to dish out severe suspensions to some of its top-name athletes due to using Performance Enhancing Drugs, news out of track and field reveal that Kentucky native Tyson Gay has tested positive and will pull out of the world championships next month in Moscow, thus denying fans a much-anticipated showdown with Usain Bolt.

Gay admits his “A” sample came back positive and that he will have his “B” sample tested, but noted he will accept his punishment “like a man.”Gay said he put his trust in someone and was let down, but wouldn’t identify that someone or what PED he tested positive for.

It was just a few years ago Gay participated in the U.S. Anti-Doping Agencies “My Victory” program where athletes pledged to compete clean. Now that pledge means nothing, as Gay becomes another in a long list of athletes wanting to gain some type of chemical advantage over their opponents.

Gay has battled injuries over the past few years, and I’m sure that played some role in this. He was finally healthy and won the 100 and 200 at the U.S. Nationals last month. He found himself back in the conversation as “world’s fastest man.” Now his reputation has been tarnished and I don’t know if he will ever recover.

But Gay isn’t the only athlete tied to PEDs right now. Major League Baseball is expected to hand down some serious suspensions after Tuesday night’s All-Star game to some of baseball’s biggest stars. Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun and maybe as many as 20 others are facing 50 game suspensions and maybe more. Some have reported A-Rod might get 150 games, while others are reporting that MLB is trying to cut a deal with A-Rod to reduce his suspension. Not sure what they hope to accomplish with that unless they have some serious charges against him with hopes he will spill the beans on other players. If not, then why cut a deal with him? Treat him like any other player. He’s not God’s gift to baseball. In fact, he’s far from it. A-Rod? More like A-Fraud.

Let’s face facts: PEDs are here to stay. In every sport. As I write this there’s some druggist somewhere trying to come up with the latest drug that will be undetectable in current drug tests. And there are athletes everywhere willing to do anything for that extra edge. For years, the former communist countries that competed in the Olympics were always under suspicion of using steroids, and in many cases, those suspicions were correct. Cycling has always competed under a cloud of suspicion. Bodybuilding, weightlifting, track and field and wrestling have all had some of its biggest names test positive over the years. As long as someone is making PEDs, someone will take them.

It’s one thing for professional athletes to take them. They are adults and can put whatever they want in their bodies no matter the consequences. But when you have high school athletes using PEDs, and believe me, they do, that’s something entirely different. Or weekend athletes using drugs in order to hit more home runs in adult softball, well, that’s just sad.

The only way to get PEDs out of sports is to ban the user for life if they test positive. Maybe that will discourage athletes from using them. The fear of taking away their livelihood and all the perks that come with it might be what it takes to wake these athletes up. But, of course, the unions would never allow this.

Until that day happens, expect to hear more and more of these stories.