Drug cheats are old hat

MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:41 AM ET

Welcome home Raffy. You are finally among friends.

Freed of the constant media scrutiny that has afflicted you south of the 49th, you can come to Canada and revel in relative obscurity. Your story hasn't generated much more than a mild clucking of the tongue here.

We're Canadians. We've seen worse.

By the way, Babe, love that one about accidental steroid use. You make ball players sound like drunks at a bodybuilding expo, staggering around a buffet table of chemicals and continually mistaking them for Smarties. "Oops. Did it again." Genius.

Anyway, despite your standing as a pious finger-pointer with a flunked test and no alibi, you, Rafael Palmeiro, still rank fairly high on the pantheon of athletic types.

You can thank the crack strategists at the NHLPA for that one.

As for that finger shake with Congress, don't sweat it.

We had something here called the Gomery Inquiry. The former prime minister waved golf balls around and said he had done nothing wrong. We're out better than $70 million and guess who keeps his pension?

Truth is, you've got to go a long way to surprise a Canadian and for that, you can thank Ben Johnson, a long-time resident of this very city.

Johnson became the standard for drug cheats when he tested positive at the Seoul Olympics in 1988. It was for stanozolol. I'm guessing you weren't paying attention.

We had national debates in the wake of Ben's admission of drug use. We had inquiries. We beat ourselves up and endured a sort of national shame. The only thing put in front of Johnson's name more often than "disgraced sprinter" was "disgraced Canadian sprinter."

There were a few extenuating circumstances.

Four of the top sprinters from Johnson's gold medal win in Seoul, including Carl Lewis, had subsequent drug violations. The United States Track and Field Association, ever helpful in getting the best teams available, papered over some of the offences. Linford Christie of Britain was later caught for steroids and banned. Only Johnson lost his medal.

Anyway, when Johnson admitted to using the drugs when he set world records, those standards were stripped.

You'll get off far luckier. It's unlikely Congress can prove you perjured yourself and, despite what Frank Robinson suggests, there is no real way to pretend you never existed.

You're out there, on CSPAN and MSN waving your finger and as a member of a nation who has had similar fingers waved at them by the likes of Carl Lewis and Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery as they protested their innocence and hired the kind of lawyers poor Ben Johnson couldn't or didn't.

I would like to say, we Canadians would like to say, we truly feel badly for you.

Nope. Just can't manage it.

Looks good on you. Yeah, that feels better.

To sum up, as the most famous ball player ever to flunk the ludicrously low standards for drug abuse set in place by Major League Baseball, you may feel under the spotlight while in our city.

Let me assure you, nothing could be further from the truth.

Guys like you are old news around here.


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