To Kevin, at al.
Subject: Not another Marion
Did you catch the question that silenced the room midway through Michael Phelps' post-race news conference this morning? It came from Bill Plaschke, of the Los Angeles Times:
"You follow sports in the United States. you know recent heroes who've done superhuman sports like this have always seemed to end up -- Marion Jones, Barry Bonds, blah blah. What do you say to people who say in America, 'You know, this is so good, it's too good to be true?'"
The doping question. It's not easy to ask. But we have to ask it these days. Plaschke posed it respectfully and Phelps handled it just as well.
"Anybody is able to say whatever they want," Phelps said. "I know for me, I am clean."
That's what Phelps said out loud. In his head, I'm pretty sure he was thinking, "I sure hope Woody Paige DESTROYS this Plaschke guy on Around the Horn next week."
Phelps continued: "I did Project Believe with USADA where I purposely wanted to do more tests to prove it. People can question it all they want, but the facts are the facts. And I have the results to prove it."
Plaschke's ensuing column can be found here. Here's a brief excerpt.
If you're curious, Project Believe is an interesting test program. It covers 12 athletes, including Phelps, Dara Torres and Tyson Gay. Essentially, these dozen participants are volunteering for extra testing. It does not, however, mean anyone is clean.
The best story I've seen on the subject was by Yahoo Sports, in which even the CEO of USADA stated bluntly: "I want to be absolutely clear, whether it's Dara or any other athlete in this program, we can't guarantee their cleanliness. ... It's sad and it's unfortunate."