In My Opinion | David J. Neal

David J. Neal: Let’s face it, fans only care about winning, not cheating

Sunday’s news from the track world: more prominent names failing drug tests, more denials of guilt or claims of misplaced trust. It’s not really “news” so much as “same olds” save for the names: Asafa Powell, Tyson Gay, Sharone Simpson.

And over in baseball, A-Rod hasn’t gone A-Way yet. According to reports, Miami Westminster Christian graduate Alex Rodriguez and his lawyers met with Major League Baseball on Friday. Rodriguez and former University of Miami star Ryan Braun each has been linked to the now-closed Miami Biogenesis clinic that ultimately might strike out more All-Stars than Bob Gibson in his prime.

Anybody else tired of this? I don’t mean the cheating, I mean the chasing. And the finger-pointing, the finger-wagging, the bad excuses resembling Richard Pryor describing his children lying about breaking a lamp (“Remember when you said not to run in here? Well, I wasn’t really runnin’. It just kind of looked like I was runnin.’”)

The War on Drugs in sports has worked about as well as the War on Drugs in the real world. So how long do we continue this never-ending pursuit before we say, “Aw, let ‘em play their way?”

Anybody see NFL players getting smaller or slower? No, and fans don’t care. We harrumph more about NFL commissioner Roger Goodell trying to eliminate concussion-causing hits than about the PED-boosted size and speed that increases the impact of those hits. Quantum physical leaps continue with no loss of enthusiasm in the fans breathlessly watching it displayed in college, at the NFL Scouting Combine and on Sundays.

NFL players deal in pain-killing drugs that can have devastating side effects. Some play at weights that put them at risk for being a blob of health problems four seconds into retirement. Outcry from fans? “More beer!”

We try to act like we care that track is clean. We don’t in this country because we stopped caring about track more than a decade ago. Ironically, when you needed to get paid under the table to make money at track, our capitalist (or pseudo-capitalist) country flourished on the track and every sports fan could identify “Carl Lewis” “Jim Ryun” “Edwin Moses” even “Sebastian Coe.”

The rest of the world is like us with football — they want to see faster, higher, stronger. The only track drug test failure that would raise an eyebrow would involve Usain Bolt, whose initial burst to track superstardom back in 2008 involved taking Powell’s world record in the 100 meters.

After that initial eyebrow raise, there likely would be “of course” knowing nod many gave to the George Zimmerman verdict and move right along to the next item on Sport Center.

Let’s face it, the only sport we really care about drug use in is baseball. Baseball lives on individual numbers, nostalgia, the illusion of purity in the summer. PEDs mess with all of that. So that form of cheating is verboten. The PED bombers sit outside the Hall of Fame while some pitchers masterful at doctoring the ball reside forever in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Whether for financial reasons, the lust for victory or just the desire for what race car driver Mark Donohue called “the unfair advantage,” world-class athletes repeatedly prove themselves willing to do whatever it takes to compete and win.

It’s about time we end the War on Drugs and just let them.

Read more Motor Sports stories from the Miami Herald

NASCAR driver Tony Stewart walks to his car during practice for Sunday's NASCAR auto race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga., Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. Sunday's race will be his first since his car struck and killed a fellow driver during a sprint race in New York three weeks ago.

    Tony Stewart back at the track, looking to heal

    Tony Stewart took his seat on the podium — unshaven, his eyes glassy — and unfolded a sheet of paper. His voice quivered as he read, pausing to maintain his composure as he described the death of a driver he hit as "one of the toughest tragedies I've ever had to deal with."

NASCAR driver David Ragan waits to practice for Sunday's NASCAR auto race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga., Friday, August 29, 2014.

    Harvick wins Atlanta pole; Stewart is 12th

    Kevin Harvick has won the pole for the NASCARs Sprint Cup Series race Sunday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

NASCAR auto racing driver Tony Stewart, right, arrives for a news conference at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga., Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. Stewart says the death of Kevin Ward Jr. will "affect my life forever" as he returned to the track for the first time since his car struck and killed the fellow driver during a sprint-car race in New York.

    NASCAR will let Tony Stewart in Chase with win

    NASCAR says Tony Stewart will be allowed to compete in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship if he qualifies despite missing three races following the death of a sprint car driver at a New York track.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category