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Athlete’s statement refreshing change

This is not a commentary on the accusations against Olympic shot-putter C.

Tuesday, September 26, 2000

This is not a commentary on the accusations against Olympic shot-putter C.J. Hunter and his positive test for a sort of steroid at a competition earlier this year.

All evidence seems to point to the fact that the test was a fluke – a nutritional supplement gone wrong.

That situation will play itself out and the debate over testing and doping will continue long after no one remembers this controversy.

This is a commentary on what Hunter said during his press conference in Sydney.

He said that track and field events were never important enough to him to do something that would embarrass his family. That is a paraphrase; his own words were much more poignant than that.

You can choose whether to believe what Hunter said. You can even decide if his tears during his meeting with the press were real or just an act to get sympathy.

But you should also admit that such a statement is rather insightful. Perhaps more athletes – and fans – should feel that way.

Today’s sports world is filled with prima donnas who think nothing of bar fights, drug use, infidelity and dishonor. They don’t worry about the consequences of their actions because there are none.

And we, the fans, look away and excuse them, too, even for actions that would draw scorn in our everyday lives.

Hunter might be innocent. In fact, it is likely that he is. But his reaction to the media hubbub and the accusations shows that his first priority is his name and his family.

He said he will still be in the stands cheering his wife, Marion Jones, on to victory. That nothing could keep him from there. He also said he will hold his head high.

He should.

And in the meantime, Americans should start expecting the same kind of honor and integrity from all our sports heroes. We should not excuse behavior that we wouldn’t condone in our daily lives.

Athletic talent should stop being a "get out of jail free" card.