Every year we hear of athletes, both amateur and professional, who come clean about their use of anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing drugs – almost always after they have retired from competition. They bemoan their lack of judgment and warn young people against the dangers of steroids. Of course, every kid in America is interpreting their absurd message of “do as I say, not as I do” for what it is – a total crock.
It’s easy to condemn steroids after the fact – after you have achieved fame and fortune from using them. But with every admission of guilt – and there are new ones almost every year - has there ever been a single athlete who has ever renounced his trophies, medals, titles, or awards and insisted that his name be stricken from the record book and that the runner-up be acknowledged as the rightful winner? Not a chance.
And the money? Has there ever been a single incident where any of these athletes has offered to forfeit the millions of dollars that he earned from cheating? The odds are even more remote.
Arnold Schwarzenegger won 7 Mr. Olympia titles, became a famous movie star, married into one of the most prestigious families in America, and was elected governor of California. Is there anyone who thinks he could have achieved any of these milestones without using steroids? In a CNN interview with John King in 2009 he said, “it is important to get the message out that we should not use drugs. I think we have a certain obligation as athletes to inspire young people.” The former seven-time Mr. Olympia said he had no regrets about using steroids but would not encourage drug use because it sent the “wrong message to children.” Really? Meanwhile his name is still in the record books, and he is laughing all the way to the bank, and every kid in America knows it.
On January 11, 2010, baseball star Mark McGwire admitted to using steroids for nearly a decade, including during the 1998 season when he broke the then-single-season home run record. In a tearful AP interview, he lamented about his use of steroids and said "I wish I had never touched steroids. It was foolish and it was a mistake,” but apparently not enough of a mistake to relinquish everything that he achieved by using steroids – his selection to the 1998 Sporting News Silver Slugger team, his 1998 Associated Press Player of the Year, his 1998 Baseball America’s Major League Player of the Year award, and his 1998-2000 National League All-Star Team selections – all of which would have been awarded to someone else if he hadn’t cheated.
World and Olympic hammer throwing champion Harold Connelly died on August 18, 2010, but admitted before he died that he had used steroids consistently from 1960. Of course, Connelly set four world records from 1960 -1965 and made the Olympic Team in 1956, 1960, 1964, and 1968. His excuse? “Everybody” else was doing it anyway. Sure they were. And someone else was denied the honor and privilege of serving his country in the Olympics because Connelly rationalized his use of steroids because “everybody” else was cheating too. And just how would he know that?
Popular baseball star Ken Caminiti admitted that had used steroids during his 1996 MVP season and for several seasons after including 1996 and 1997 when he appeared in the All Star Game. Caminiti died from a drug overdose in 2004. Who would have rightfully won the MVP award if he had not cheated and who would have been selected to the All Star Team if he had not cheated? Clearly he was never remorseful enough to relinquish his baseball honors.
Tony Mandarich was one of pro football’s biggest busts after he stopped using steroids. But prior to becoming a second-round draft choice for the Green Bay Packers, Mandarich was juiced up as a first-team All-American for Michigan State University in 1988, UPI Lineman of the Year, Outland Award finalist, and two-time Big Ten Lineman of the Year. He admitted to using steroids at Michigan States and even faked a drug test prior to the 1988 Rose Bowl. His awards, too, are still on the record books.
The bottom line is that all of these confessions are empty and meaningless. Why? Because the athletes who “come clean” only do so when they have retired from competition or when they are forced to confess under oath (e.g. Hulk Hogan, Andy Pettitte). They are so self-absorbed in their own egos that they don’t care if they cheat their fellow athletes, they don’t care if they break the law, and they don’t care if they potentially harm themselves. They only care about winning at any cost, and they think of every excuse in the world to rationalize their decision – injuries, money, “everybody” else is doing it, etc.
The great hypocrisy, of course, is that while they are competing, they want everyone to think they are natural. Why? Because they know they are cheating, but they don’t want anyone to know it. After all, living a lie is easy if nobody finds out about it.
Jim Evans is a 44-year veteran of the health and fitness industry and internationally recognized fitness consultant. He has been published in dozens of magazines and newspapers over the years and is the author of "Senior Health & Fitness," a monthly column published in more than 750 markets across the country (since 1992). He is a popular and well-known speaker available for speaking engagements through World Class Speakers & Entertainers and was host of the popular radio talk show "Forever Young" on San Diego's KCBQ 1170 AM for seven years focusing on issues of health, fitness, and quality of life for older adults. Jim was a charter inductee in the ABCC Natural Bodybuilding Hall of Fame in 1985 and was the sole inductee in the U.S. Natural Bodybuilding Hall of Fame in 2009.