Tyson Gay didn’t do it. He didn’t cheat, he didn’t dope. Know how we know?
He told us so.
Technically, in this case, the multiple Olympic and World Championship sprinter, the biggest-name American male since Michael Johnson, told the AP after word got out of a failed drug test Monday that he didn’t have any of the usual explanations and excuses.
What he said, reportedly fighting back tears, was: “I don’t have any of those stories. I basically put my trust in someone and I was let down.”
It wasn’t the exact same story from a different mouth. But it sure sounded familiar. The next track and field athlete that admits guilt when he or she gets caught – without doing in under oath in court, that is – will be the first.
Gay, who just won the 100-200 double at the U.S. championship last month, has been seeing an “anti-aging specialist,’’ the magazine reported. For the unfamiliar, at least two significant doping scandals in recent years – baseball’s current Biogenesis investigation and a widespread probe in 2007 centered on Signature Pharmacies – revolved around “anti-aging” clinics that dealt in hormones, HGH and other banned substances.
This particular specialist, Atlanta chiropractor Clayton Gibson, told SI that he had worked with Gay dating back to the U.S. trials before the London Olympics last summer. He wouldn’t confirm if he had given Gay anything shady. Gay, emotionally talkative earlier in the week, did not return the magazine’s request for comment.
No, Gay—who Wednesday was cut loose by Adidas— shouldn’t be convicted already.
Neither should the jewels of the Jamaican track powerhouse be convicted merely because of a wave of failed tests coinciding with Gay’s – Asafa Powell, Sherone Simpson, three other athletes and, last month, Veronica Campbell-Brown. (To answer the inevitable question: Usain Bolt has not been implicated.)
However, those developments removed another layer of the benefit of the doubt. If there’s any left, for any athlete in any sport, that is.
It’s not just that Gay is pointing the finger at an unnamed “someone” he trusted. He also agreed to a pledge to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to compete clean. The pledge:
“The only sport I believe in is clean sport, sport that is free of all cheating, including doping.”
A champion cyclist once made a similar pledge in his sport and challenged himself publicly to stand up to it and prove his integrity.
That guy named Lance Armstrong. And we all know how that story ended.
Athletes in these sports have raised the bar on accountability as their reputations have grown more soiled. In turn, they’ve repeatedly failed to reach that bar, and remain accountable.
It’s entirely possible that they can’t. Maybe it’s impossible to win at that level without enhancing themselves, tilting the playing field, winning the battle in the lab, buying what it takes to get that gold.
It’s not unreasonable.
These athletes should stop telling us otherwise, though. Because it only makes it that much harder to even start to believe the next Tyson Gay when he says he’s clean.