His premature confession likely won’t send him into the maw of the Oprah Winfrey Media Makeover Machine anytime soon, but still, it was nice not to hear a raft of excuses from a 30-year-old man. The sad part for Gay, of course, is that he is 30, coming off a series of injuries and hip surgery and nearing the end of his career. He has been an outspoken critic of doping in his sport and asked to be part of USADA’S “My Victory” program, one of 11 athletes who volunteered to undergo more rigorous testing to show support for drug-free competition.
Now he likely will lose at least six months of competition, and possibly more — as well he should. Rules are rules. But in the wake of the Lance Armstrong lie-fest, Gay’s guilt is somehow still a breath of fresh air. And that’s a sorry state of affairs.
Adidas reacted swiftly, dropping Gay like a hot baton. He had a no-doping clause in his contract, of course, so the company is perfectly within its rights. Still, it might have spent a few minutes working on its statement: “We are shocked by these recent allegations, and even if we presume his innocence until proven otherwise, our contract with Tyson is currently suspended.” (Adidas’s cynicism, my italics.)
In fairness to Adidas, it’s hard not to be cynical about sports and doping in 2013. Every athlete who shows marked improvement or suddenly bursts on the scene to perform feats of strength or speed is unfairly subject to rumors and innuendo, however unfair. Just ask the Orioles’ Chris Davis. The whispers about him have increased exponentially with his home run and RBI totals, which is totally unfair and a product of the current climate. The joy of the McGwire-Sosa home run battle? Those days are gone. There is no joy in Mudville — Mighty Casey has too much muscle mass, his head has gotten bigger over the years and his home run-to-strikeout ratio is out of this world.
MLB is holding its breath about Davis even as it prepares to announce penalties from the Biogenesis scandal. Those will be closely examined and hotly contested, one assumes, because they don’t involve popped drug tests. Still, USADA got Armstrong with a case that was long on testimony and short on physical evidence; it proved it can be done. (And to be clear, I no longer have any doubt that Armstrong was a doper and is a liar.)