Thursday, December 22, 2005

Not Everybody's All-American

The Association of Tennis Professionals has suspended Argentine player Mariano Puerta for eight years for twice violating its policies against doping. His career is over. Talk about a deterrent.

You can't help but look at this case and reason that if MLB really gave a rat's ass about this problem, they would tear a page out of the ATP's doping policy -- who tore a page out of the Olympics' strict approach.

What's most disconcerting, though, is that both of this French Open finalist's infractions don't sound anything close to what I was expecting from a doping violation -- well, depending on what you read, that is. The latest charge involved ingesting a medication that belonged to his wife, which has been described as everything from a prescription hypertension drug to an over-the-counter medication, and in 2003 he was suspended for using clenbuterol, which I've heard described as "an anabolic steroid" in some places and an asthma medication with "some steroid-like properties" elsewhere. (Are you as confused as I am?) The panel even concluded that Puerta's use of his wife's drug was "inadvertent" and "too small to have any effect on his performance."

Now I'm as suspicious as anyone when I hear about these world-class professional athletes who just happen to put these unknown substances in their bodies all willy-nilly, so I tend to agree that something is up. But at the same time, it just doesn't seem equitable that the BALCO boys continue to set records right and left -- and we know without a doubt what drugs they were doing -- and we've yet to see anyone punished beyond a 10-day slap on the wrist.

  • Read: Record ban effectively ends career for Puerta here.
  • (Pay close attention: one of the people quoted is named Dick Pound.)

  • Read: Mariano Puerta's complete statement here.

  • 1 comment:

    Bill said...

    I'm as confused as you are. On the one hand, it doesn't sound like he did much of anything. And the ATP has a record of *giving* banned substances to people in order to suspend them (even though Rusedski is an A-hole).

    But Puerta certainly did start playing out of his mind after being nothing special, once he came back from ... a doping suspension. And, Rusedski aside, in the history of testing it's only the Argentines who can't manage to avoid "accidentally" taking some cold medicine that just happens to mimic steroids.