|Should there be amnesty for steroid users?|
Written by Daniel Paulling (Contact & Archive) on March 23, 2009
In last week's Sports Illustrated, Chris Ballard presents a good idea on how to handle this steroid mess: amnesty for everyone who comes forward. Here's how his idea would work.
We could call it APE (Amnesty for the Performance Enhanced) and hold an enormous press conference. The guilty athletes could line up at the side of the stage, like at graduation, only without the sense of optimism or hope. Each jock would approach the podium and read from a handy one-mea-culpa-serves-all: "I, [insert name], willingly took [steroids/HGH/experimental Russian opiates disguised as Skittles] that I got from [my trainer/some guy in Queens/eBay] because I thought it would make me [more successful/wealthier/better than Sammy Sosa], and now look at me. I developed [chronic elbow injuries/ terrible bacne/barely visible testicles] and am ashamed of myself. Kids, believe me, you don't want to be me. I don't even want to be me right now."
And that would be it. They would get on with their lives so that we, as sports fans, could get on with ours. There would be no book deals for the guilty, no flak-managed press conferences, no making up stories about reporters hiding in their carry-on luggage. Rather, each guilty jock would have to stand up, spill the beans and take it like a man; hey, they should be used to it now after all those needles.
This is a good idea in theory. Athletes who have been forward about their steroid abuse have been vilified in the media before the story blew over. See: Giambi, Jason or Pettitte, Andy. The athletes who continue to insist their innocence in the face of enormous evidence to the opposite -- like Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens -- are facing an uphill battle.
Coming forward would also present athletes in a more believable light. After Alex Rodriguez's multiple PR-infused press conferences, fans disliked him more, not less. This amnesty plan would force athletes to present the entire truth (i.e. following the script Ballard mentioned).
What check would we have they would tell the truth? Just imagine the backlash once a media report is done that so-and-so didn't perfectly dot their I's and cross their T's. The pressure to tell the complete truth during the press conference would be too much.
Another positive for athletes: it beats waiting for the next investigative piece where one of those 103 other positives from MLB's 2005 testing is revealed. It's only a matter of time before those names are made public. Baseball players might as well be proactive.