Welcome to Hypocrisy 101
Tour de France champion Floyd Landis is coming to town for the Teva Mountain Games. There’s no question that Landis will raise the profile of what tends to be the kickoff of summer in Vail. Whether using Landis to do this is another question and another column for another day.What surprises me is the openness with which people are approaching Landis, whose win last year was clouded by two positive tests for unnaturally-elevated levels of testosterone after the 17th stage, when he mounted a comeback for the ages.The same day our sports writer Ian Cropp reported that Landis is coming to Vail, San Francisco Giants’ Barry Bonds, condemned by most as the poster boy for steroid use in baseball, knocked two out of the yard in Pittsburgh, inching closer to Hank Aaron’s career home run mark of 755.To review, the actual evidence of against Bonds so far is illegally leaked testimony from a grand jury that’s been in session for four years now, as well as accusations from people who have a lot to gain financially from their testimony (i.e. his mistress), but no failed drug tests.Landis failed two tests. He does have a legitimate beef with the way the doping agencies involved handles the process. Heck, in some instances, Sudafed or Propecia can trigger positives.But based on the evidence we have, why is Bonds the bad guy and Landis a victim? Why does Landis get due process legally, and just about as importantly, in the court of opinion, but not Bonds?
They both juicedYes, the Giants slugger’s power numbers spiked. Yes, the Bonds of the late 80s and early 90s is much different in physical stature than his current form. There was “the cream” and “the cream,” again from leaked testimony.Baseball started testing for steroids far too late, but the fact remains that Bonds, to our knowledge, has not failed a test for them. (Yes, he admitted to amphetamine use last year, but greenies don’t help you hit home runs, which is the issue.) Baseball does not disclose who is tested, but let’s get real. Bonds has to have been tested and baseball doesn’t have proof. We’d have heard about it a long time ago because a positive test would end Bonds’ quest for 755, Commissioner Bud Selig’s dream scenario.As a hopeless Giants fan, I do believe that Bonds roided up. I lean toward the fact that Landis is guilty as well. Weren’t Bonds’ 73 home runs in 2001 just as outlandish as Landis’ comeback during the 17th stage. He was done, finished, over and out before that stage.And yes, the tests. Tests may screw up once, but twice? The testosterone found in Landis’ sample was concluded to be synthetic. That’s hard to explain.Black and white or white and black?
The reason for the dichotomy in public opinion is complex as America itself. Landis is a nice guy; Bonds is not. And yes, Landis is white and Bonds is black.Landis’ win last year was a feel-good story. By all accounts, a nice guy, he overcome a seemingly insurmountable deficit in the mountains on a bum hip to win cycling’s biggest race. After Lance Armstrong left the Tour, who was going to watch cycling again? Landis made us watch.Bonds is Bonds. He was a big time-jerk to the media when he came up with Pittsburgh. In fairness to him, he’s cleaned his act up as he’s matured during his tenure with the Giants, but he is prone to his annual State of the Barry Address and the occasional hissy fit.The media remembers this. We don’t like being blown off, and we tend to hold it against people. If you get the chance this winter, just ask the assembled scribes at Birds of Prey what they think of Bode Miller. Playing nicely with the media is important. Why do you think Floyd Landis was on every media outlet known to humanity after his “B” sample came back positive? He was playing the game.Even when Bonds does play the game, as he did in 2001 with regular news conferences, he got ripped for being dishonest when he said that winning a championship was more important than the single-season homer record. Of course, had he said that he wanted the record, he’d be called selfish.Before Bonds started his, yes alleged, steroid use, he was in the hole.
And, yes, race does matter. What was everyone talking about last week? Don Imus and Nappy-Headed Ho-Gate. Kind of interesting this all happened in the two weeks leading up to Sunday’s 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier.Yes, it’s been 60 years, but you’re kidding yourself if you think baseball and America has race behind it. It is the essence of irony that Aaron’s record is all of a sudden revered after all the intolerable garbage through which he had to go in passing Babe Ruth’s 714. It wasn’t until 1999, when the Atlanta Braves took the initiative to celebrate the 25th anniversary of homer No. 715, that Aaron started getting the credit he justly deserved for passing Ruth. Just as the French do not enjoy seeing Americans win the Tour, we don’t like seeing African-Americans breaking records in our national pastime.So when Landis competes here this summer, he’ll likely get a warm reception. When Bonds steps to the plate tonight at Coors Field, his reception will be quite the opposite.There is something very wrong with this picture.Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.