Cheating in sports still not acceptable

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 14, 2007

There it went. Record home run No. 756. Yawnnn.

No one really cared. Most people went to bed and happened to hear about it the next day. Barry Bonds was not showered with adulation for breaking Hank Aaron’s all-time mark.

Why? Steroids.

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Bonds is perceived as a cheater. Instead of his performance declining after the age of 36 like everyone who has ever played any sport, Bonds’ numbers began to rise including a record 73 home runs in one season.

So Bonds has been vilified for cheating. He said he unknowingly used “the cream” or some other type of steroid, but no one believes his story. When accused in the book “Game of Shadows,” there was no lawsuit for defamation of character on the heels of its release.

Instead, his personal trainer Greg Anderson sits in a jail. Neither he nor Bonds will talk. Bonds is silent in order to keep playing. Anderson is silent probably in order to collect a big check from Bonds once the whole thing blows over.

However, Bonds isn’t the only player who has alegedly cheated, he’s just the main target of the anger and disgust of the public. A lot of the harsh treatment for Bonds is due as much or more because of the type of person he is, not just for taking steroids.

Bonds does not treat people in a civil manner. He’s a prima donna who has his own set of rules from the rest of the team. He sits in his own side of the clubhouse with a massage chair as he watches his own personal big screen TV turned so no one but him can view the picture.

He doesn’t eat the food supplied for the rest of the team after games. Instead, he caters his own.

Bonds didn’t need to cheat to make the Hall of Fame. He was a great player even before steroids.

I’m no fan of Bonds, but let’s be fair. He’s not the only guy who is cheating or who has ever cheated.

Gaylord Perry is the Hall of Fame with more than 300 career wins. Not only did he cheat by loading the baseball with Vaseline or scuff marks, he wrote a book about how he cheated and practiced in front of a mirror in order to cheat without getting caught.

Mark McGwire, who had hit 70 home runs prior to Bonds’ 73, admitted to taking androstenedione, an over-the-counter muscle enhancement supplement that was legal in major league baseball but banned by the NFL and International Olympic Committee.

The name of pitcher Roger “I have six Cy Young Awards” Clemens has surfaced recently. Clemens is another player who saw very little drop off in his game and is still pitching well at the age of 43.

Some have argued the 1970s and early ’80s was the era of players using “greenies” to keep them strong instead of wearing down over the 162-game grind.

The thing about “greenies” or “uppers” is they never enhanced a player’s performance. It might have been a form of cheating, but not to the degree of steroids.

And let’s not forget players like Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi, or Sammy Sosa. Remember that Sosa not only is linked to cheating with steroids, he got caught with a corked bat.

Cheating has been a part of pro sports for as long as sports has existed. It’s probably hard to conceive how many players are in a hall of fame and cheated to get ahead.

Maybe cheating has been a part of sports forever, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it or accept it.

Is that an asterisk I see in the record book?

— Sinatra —

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.