Granted, we live in a society where everyone’s birthright seemingly includes a “Get Out Of Jail Free” victim card. But wouldn’t it have been refreshing if these athletic elites – Justin Gatlin, the Olympic champion and co-world record holder in the 100-meter dash and Floyd Landis, the winner of this year’s Tour de France – had better explanations for their failed drug tests.
Gatlin has resorted to the “disgruntled masseuse” defense. He says he was rubbed the wrong way by a masseuse with a grudge. Hence those elevated testosterone levels in his system.
As for Landis, he’s backed off the defense that his own system produced the skewed testosterone ratios. That’s because the drug charge now includes synthetic testosterone. Landis’ latest theory: Those with “agendas,” whatever that means. We don’t know, because Landis isn’t saying any more than that – even to Jay Leno the other night.
Maybe the better explanation would be: “I did it. I’m sorry I did it, and I’m really sorry I got caught doing it.
“When you’re an elite athlete your universe is different from others’. The drive to succeed to the point that you are the best in the world at something is unfathomable for most people. The pressure is enormous – but the rewards incredibly enticing and enriching. And the likelihood that your competition isn’t pristine makes rationalizing easy.
“And yet you still have to train like a demon and outwork everybody. You just want that extra edge that separates the very good from the great. It’s incredibly tempting. I am talented enough and dedicated enough to be a world-class athlete, but I wasn’t strong enough to withstand that temptation.
“I apologize to everyone I have disappointed. And to those still tempted: ‘Don’t do it. It’s not worth it.’ Getting that ‘extra edge’ is a nice way of saying ‘cheating.’ And there’s nothing nice about that.”