Have we had enough of trying to un-do the past? I am referring to the expensive and futile trials of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, whose cases are relevant to the ongoing pursuit of Lance Armstrong.
The charges against Bonds and Clemens ultimately failed because Major League Baseball allowed itself to be stonewalled by Donald Fehr and the Players Association long enough to avoid adequate rules and testing during the time of the steroids plague.
By the same token, cycling was a swarm of corruption because every layer of that sport did not want to know – the Tour de France, the international federation, the sponsors, the media. Now the United States Anti-Doping Agency is going after Armstrong, who was beating riders who were ultimately caught cheating. Some of them are now giving testimony that Armstrong was the ringleader of cheating by his team.
Some of the potential witnesses were loyal teammates of Armstrong. Their testimony could be important. But before going any further, USADA ought to look at the Clemens trial.
The best thing Clemens had going for him was his accuser. McNamee was always a sleaze, even dressed up in a suit and tie for court or Congress, and he could never escape the aura of creepiness.
The second best thing Clemens had going was the soft-minded indecisiveness of Andy Pettitte, his old buddy, who could not stay on message during his testimony. Pettitte probably received bad coaching from the same prosecutors who blew the first trial. They never had a chance the second time. The case should never have been re-tried.
Nevertheless, we all pretty much know what Clemens is, a bully and a blowhard, and we have a pretty good idea that he cheated. Now he will be judged by time, and the public, and also by the baseball writers who vote for the Hall of Fame.
The New York Times does not allow its writers to vote for awards in any field. If I did have a vote, I would not cast it for Clemens or Bonds because I have no doubt they juiced and lied about it. A whole generation – including Sosa, McGwire, Palmeiro and Canseco -- is going to be judged by this odd scruffy jury with long memories.
Nobody likes being conned.
One thing we have learned from these failed trials is that everybody needs to upgrade their laws and their senses to avoid the next round of plagues in every sport – doping, brain damage, gambling, sex abuse, corruption in American scholastic and college sports. Let’s fight the next battles.
What’s your reaction?
“They may hate the cultural context they now find themselves teaching in, but they love their work. The Achilles’ heel of schoolteachers, one all too easily exploited by politicians, is that they love their students.”
(One of the best reads in the NYT these days is Margaret Renkl, in Nashville. In her latest post, Renkl describes the dedicated core of “born teachers” – the majority, she submits.)
(From Madeleine Albright in one of her final interviews in February):
“Putin is small and pale,” I wrote, “so cold as to be almost reptilian.” He claimed to understand why the Berlin Wall had to fall but had not expected the whole Soviet Union to collapse. “Putin is embarrassed by what happened to his country and determined to restore its greatness.” – Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, recalling her first meeting with the relatively unknown Vladimir Putin in 2000. – The New York Times, Feb. 23, 2022.