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August 25, 2008

It Had To Be the 'Roids

As Michael Phelps and the appropriately-named Usain Bolt broke world records, sportswriters got their suspicion on. Because it's totally inconceivable that anyone can accomplish anything in sports these days—well, at least sports where they test for doping; sports with less-than-rigorous testing regimes are oddly immune—without the help of performance-enhancing drugs. It's as if writers totally misunderstood the lesson of their false-hero-creation during baseball's steroids scandal, concluding they could be just as lazy as long as they were suspicious. Let the speculation parade begin!

Olympics Day 13 - Athletics
The New York Post: "Was it showmanship? Or was it something else, such as the eyebrows that ***** really ***** would have been raised if he had turned in a 9.55, something like that?"

The Philadelphia Inquirer: "The doping cloud that has hung over track for the last five years has not cleared completely. Not even close. When anyone comes along and does something unreal, it's reasonable to wonder how real it is."

The Miami Herald: "In the case of Phelps the question is, are you still willing to believe [that he hasn't used steroids, in spite of the fact that the he's been tested a zillion times]?

The Daily Mail: "But even as the cheers rang out in that magical moment, even as the clock’s yellow digits flashed up an incredible 9.69sec, the nagging voice started whispering that the scene was certainly unbelievable all right, only in the other sense of the word."

The New York Times manages a singular feat—it raises a salient point about the nature of drug testing, noting that "track and cycling try harder than any other sports to catch drug users. Instead of being rewarded for their vigilance, though, they are dismissed as being drug-infested." The Times then proceeds to do just that, concluding by asking, "How long until we can trust what we are seeing?"

Our guess? When reporters stop speculating and start reporting on things like testing procedures, masking agents, and other possible explanations for athletic prowess. Such reporting might not remove the suspicion, but at least it would illuminate it.

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