Unmasking the Real Faces of Steroids

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By Mike Wise
Saturday, December 22, 2007

A week after George J. Mitchell outed a league of synthetic chemists, violins still play for America's disgraced uberhumans. It's sad to see people -- sycophant fans and media alike -- showing sympathy for Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and other publicly embarrassed stars linked to steroids.

The only explanation is fear: They're afraid their favorite players stubbed their toes trampling the little people.

The career minor leaguer, proud to be drug-free but not quite debt-free. The weight-room kid who's prone to mood swings, who told his parents he took steroids because "Barry Bonds does it." And, unbelievably, AIDS patients, who were prescribed steroids but gave up their medication because Major League Baseball players ostensibly wanted it more.

It's there, in those 311 pages plus attachments, along with the greatest pitcher of his generation getting punctured in the butt with a syringe. Mitchell employed prominent names in his report like the first paragraph of this story used names; he wanted a steroid-apathetic society with the attention span of a CNN crawl line to keep turning the page and learn something. And it worked.

The mention of Clemens, Miguel Tejada, Andy Pettitte and Gary Sheffield obfuscate what the Mitchell report really tried to say. Office pools leading up to the release of the "The List" -- really, our national obsession with celebrity -- hid the truth:

The actions of vain, rich and dishonest men not only tainted their own workplace but reverberated across the nation and beyond in devastating ways. They actively promoted and benefited from a damaging culture of drug use that can't be rationalized away with, "I only used it twice."

Peter Gammons, that guardian of the game, actually called Kirk Radomski and Brian McNamee "sewer rats" on television for essentially flipping on their clients, as if this were a mob movie with morals.

No, Mitchell's two main informants were drug mules for millionaires. Nothing more. Radomski's most despicable moment wasn't snitching to the feds so he could avoid a possible 30-year prison sentence; it came while waiting outside hospitals, offering AIDS patients cash for their human growth hormone so he could resell it to baseball players bargaining with the devil. Greg Anderson, who did 14 months for Bonds out of some warped code of loyalty, did the same, according to the report.

"Anderson said that he obtained the human growth hormone from AIDS patients in San Francisco. . . . Kirk Radomski also obtained human growth hormone that he resold to major league players by purchasing "kits" of the substance from AIDS patients."

Think about that twisted juxtaposition: professional athletes who wanted to perform better and play longer took some of the drugs intended for HIV-infected people who needed them to live longer.

Beyond the stars, many of the drug cheats used that HGH to steal money and fame from their clean competitors, the Class AAA lifer who decided against risking his health for his dream to play in the majors.

The little people.


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© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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