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The Audacity of Dope

So, now Brian Cushing is claiming that he "overtrained", which led to his positive test for a substance typically used to mask PED use.

This is the same positive test he was jeered for last spring, when he claimed that a cancerous tumor was the cause. All he is asking for is the benefit of the doubt. After all, the tests didn’t reveal steroids, just a substance generally used by steroids users to spur natural testosterone production after the steroid use signals the body to stop producing it. He promises he will never test positive again (I believe him on that).

Why can’t everybody forgive and forget?

We can’t because we know he’s probably lying. Forget the facts under discussion, which indicate he is guilty of PED use, even though there may be enough of a doubt to avoid a conviction. Just pay attention to how he presents his message.

He is carefully controlling the media contacts, and not taking questions, using the cop out, "My attorney won’t let me address that, but we will provide all the info when we have our day in court". If he really had exonerating info, don’t you think he would show it to the world? The media lets athletes get away with this, because they don’t want to jeopardize relationships.

Here’s a more blatant example of athletes talking around an uncomfortable subject to avoid addressing it. Recently, Reggie Bush was asked about the USC sanctions, and he said, "I believe that there's a lot of untold truth to this matter, there's a lot of fabricated lies to this matter, but it is what it is and I can't sit here and cry about it. I can't sit here and make up excuses," Bush said. "Ultimately, it's a responsibility that's placed on USC and my shoulders. It's because of me. So all I can do is continue to try to help them and move forward with the situation.

"God works in mysterious ways and at the end of the day I think this, too, shall pass and hopefully we can grow stronger from this."

Know what you can do, Reggie? You can tell us that "untold truth". You can have a press conference and open it up to all questions. Whatever "untold truth" is out there, you know what it is. As a matter of fact, nobody is a better expert on this than you, Reggie. I think all of us understand why you’re silent. It’s because the actual truth will reflect poorly on you, and open you up to more legal action.

Back to Brian Cushing (Note- I don’t want to pick on USC here. You could insert Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens, or any sports star caught using PEDs)- he has supposedly conducted medical tests to support his overtraining claim. He hasn’t said whether these were controlled clinical tests of him and a control group, him alone, or just a NEXIS grab of supporting literature compiled into a report. He hasn’t said who the doctors are that prepared this report.

This is a genius move.

If the tests are bogus in form or results (subject experts say they know of no connection between overtraining and hCG), the league will keep his suspension the same. He can serve his suspension, come back to finish the season, and spend the rest of his career claiming he was vindicated by his tests, which I expect to never be released.

If he were truly innocent, the next step would be to make his "overtraining test" results available to the public, and allow other doctors to weigh in. He should name his doctor and let him take any and all questions. He should open up his medical and training records to scrutiny, and show the arguments for his innocence, if there are any. If he really were innocent, there would have to be something better there than, "Maybe I had cancer. Maybe I overtrained. Maybe I love America too much."

Cushing hasn’t done this yet, limiting his appeal so far to a private submittal to the league office, and I don’t expect him to. In our judicial system, he doesn’t have to. He’s gambling that he doesn’t have to in the court of public opinion, too.

He has taken the tack of the philandering spouse, explaining away lipstick stains and LaQuinta receipts with ever more fantastic stories. Why should anyone believe him? The only ones who will are those who want to believe him- the Texans fans. He’s trying to sell this so he can still become one of the faces of the franchise and preserve his potential endorsement income. The NFL will let guys like Merriman and Romanowski continue as players, but being tarred as a cheater tends to curtail a lot of the ancillary income. Cushing is trying to avoid the black mark on his name.

I wish the sports media wouldn’t let these guys get away with this so blatantly. It’s tough, though, because the athletes have gotten so good at deflecting unwanted questions. Clemens, Woods, and Armstrong have all been tied to doping doctors, but are never forced to answer why they are seeing them, instead of more reputable trainers.

Still, as higher order primates, we have the ability to reason. We should use it.