February 9, Week in Sports
:: A-ROD ACCUSED OF USING STEROIDS (Pro. Baseball)
:: MICHAEL PHELPS SUSPENDED FOR DRUG USE (Olympics)
:: BARRY BONDS COURT DOCUMENTS SHOW POSITIVE DRUG TESTS (Pro. Baseball)
SI DROPS A BOMB ON “A-FRAUD“
Sports Illustrated reported that New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in 2003, when he was playing with the Texas Rangers. Rodriguez, commonly referred to as “A-Rod,” is the most accomplished player of his generation, and he is on pace to break several of the most revered baseball records.
The test results in question came from a 2003 testing program conducted by Major League Baseball, intended to determine how pervasive steroid abuse was in the game. The results of the test were supposed to be totally confidential, and the league promised that it would not take any disciplinary measures based on the test’s results. Though those results are still confidential, that didn’t stop several sources familiar with the program from spilling the beans to Sports Illustrated and independently verifiying that Rodriguez was on the list. This story is bound to grow in the coming weeks, and though it’s hard to tell what will come of it, it certainly promises to be one of the biggest scandals in sports this year.
A-Rod’s name has also been in the news because of revelations about his relationships with his teammates, as detailed in former Yankees manager Joe Torre’s book. According to Torre, A-Rod was not particularly liked by his teammates, who called him “A-Fraud” behind his back.
Quote of the Week: “Alex Rodriguez was supposed to be the guy who saved baseball, the way that Mark McGwire did in 1998. He was supposed to ride in and save the home run record from the clutches of suspected steroid user Barry Bonds. He was supposed to be the guy who would show that clean players could be just as prolific as the cheaters…. Rodriguez wouldn’t respond to the information in the report, but anything he says really isn’t going to change the fact that this will stick to him forever.” — Buster Olney, ESPN
Further Reading: “Exclusive: A-Rod Tested Positive in 2003 ” — Selena Roberts and David Epstein, Sports Illustrated
WHAT WOULD TONY THE TIGER SAY?
Last week, News of the World, a British tabloid, published a photo of American swimmer Michael Phelps smoking marijuana. Phelps, who won a record 8 gold medals in the Beijing Olympics, is the most prominent Olympic athlete in the world.
In the days following the photo’s publication, there were two significant consequences for Phelps: USA Swimming suspended him from competition for three months, and he lost his Kellogg sponsorship. Though the suspension will make Phelps’ preparations for the world championships in Rome a little bit more difficult, in reality it is nothing more than a slap on the wrists. Furthermore, Phelps’ other sponsors stood by his side, so the loss of Kellogg will hardly make a dent in his endorsement money. So far, even people who would never consider themselves “Phelps Phans” seem to be coming out in defense of the Olympian.
Besides, Phelps has bounced back from worse indiscretions in the past, such as his drunk driving arrest in 2004. Phelps was underage at the time, but that incident did little to affect his stature in the sport.
Quote of the Week: ”Mom wasn’t happy.” — Michael Phelps
Further Reading: ”Phelps suspended from competition ” — Associated Press, via ESPN
AND HERE’S ANOTHER HIT, BARRY BONDS
This week, it emerged that there are a number of court documents that definitively prove that Barry Bonds used steroids. Bonds, who holds the MLB home run record, has been indicted for perjury and his trial is scheduled to begin next month.
Barry Bonds has become the most prominent figure of the “steroid era” of baseball. However, while it seems unlikely that even the most naive fan could still believe that Bonds was free of performance-enhancing drugs, until now there has never been definitive proof that Bonds knowingly used steroids. That being said, while the case against Bonds has grown the past few years, it is also relatively unimportant until a court of law proves that he is guilty of perjury, which would also mean that he had deliberately used steroids. The judge in Bonds’ case has suggested that she would not include the majority of the most devastating documents without the testimony of Bonds’ former personal trainer.
Also included in the unsealed court documents was a transcript of a taped conversation between Bonds’ manager and trainger about Bonds’ steroid program. That conversation is also being submitted as “proof” that Bonds knowingly took steroids and later lied about it.
Quote of the Week: “We know that he hasn’t played a game since Sept. 26, 2007, yet the specter of Barry Bonds continues to loom over the entire sport.” — Howard Bryant, ESPN.com
Further Reading: “Drug tests, transcripts included in unsealed Bonds documents ” — Associated Press, via ESPN
WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEK
:: NASCAR: The Daytona 500 takes place on Sunday, February 15. Many people consider the Daytona 500 the biggest racing event of the year, dubbing it the Super Bowl of NASCAR.
NBA (Pro. Basketball): The 2008-09 season is currently underway. It runs from late October to April of 2009, when the playoffs commence. [Official NBA Website]
NCAA MEN’S BASKETBALL (College): The college basketball season is currently underway and runs through “the Tournament,” which takes place in March. [CBS Sports]
NFL (Pro. Football): Now that the Super Bowl is over, the next major NFL event is the draft, which takes place in late April. [Official NFL Website]
NCAA FOOTBALL (College): The college football season is now over, with Florida defeating Oklahoma in the national championship game. [NCAA Football, ESPN]
MEN’S GOLF: While there are professional tournaments throughout the year, the most important tournaments are the four Major Championships: The Masters, U.S. Open, The Open (The British Open), and the PGA Championship. The Masters is scheduled for the first week of April. [Official PGA Website]
NOTABLE PLAYERS: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson
NHL (Pro. Hockey): The hockey season is currently underway and runs through April of 2009. [Official NHL Website]
MEN’S AND WOMEN’S TENNIS: While there are professional tournaments throughout the year, the most important tournaments are the four Grand Slam tournaments: the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open. The next event is the French Open, which takes place in May. [USTA Website]
NOTABLE PLAYERS: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic
MLB (Pro. Baseball): The Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in this year’s World Series. During the off-season, baseball news will focus on major trades and player signings. [Official MLB Website]