SI Vault
May 19, 1997
Unfortunately, athletes today face the choice of using drugs or competing at a disadvantage.STEPHEN P. COURSON, FORMER NFL PLAYER, PITTSBURGH
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May 19, 1997


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Unfortunately, athletes today face the choice of using drugs or competing at a disadvantage.

Although your article about steroids and other banned substances dealt primarily with Olympic athletes (Over the Edge, April 14), its subject could just as well have been pro-team sports, particularly football. The article spelled out what common sense should have told us: 325-pound offensive linemen should not naturally be able to run a 4.8 40-yard dash—or even weigh 325 pounds.
JAMES L. KEENAN, Sacramento

The article points out the shortcomings of organizations that are actively involved in the fight against performance-enhancing drugs but fails to mention those competitions in which antidrug measures are not taken. The ironic consequence is the perception that organizations that actively fight doping are alone blameworthy for the proliferation in the use of these drugs.

It is essential that all sports—pro and amateur—have a firm commitment to eradicate doping. The IOC produces a list of prohibited substances and regularly accredits laboratories to conduct doping controls. We have won important battles, even if we have not yet won the war.
FRAN�OIS CARRARD, Director General
International Olympic Committee
Lausanne, Switzerland

Did She or Didn't She?
To say, as Michael Bamberger's story does, that reasonable men may differ over whether gold medalist Michelle Smith has taken performance-enhancing drugs is simply not reasonable (Under Suspicion, April 14). All her evasiveness during drug-testing periods, her preference for the Netherlands, where drugs are liberally distributed, her unprecedented improvement at an advanced age and the fact that most performance-enhancing drugs are undetectable lead to the conclusion that Smith has used drugs.

It seems ridiculous that American reporters pursue an Irish swimmer across the Atlantic for her suspected drug use when every year they encounter, en masse, U.S. football players, pro and college, who are obvious poster boys for steroids.
MATT CHANEY, Warrensburg, Mo.

After I read your steroids articles, it was hard not to flip back to the story about Orioles centerfielder Brady Anderson, which preceded them. Anderson's "no rhyme or reason" increase in home run production looks suspicious when compared with Michelle Smith's similarly unprecedented showing at the Olympics.

Leading Off Man
Your article on Brady Anderson (Brady Hits 'em in Bunches, April 14) did nothing to explain the illogic of his batting leadoff. Certainly the list of others who have hit 50 home runs in a season didn't help; every one of them batted either third or fourth. I suspect the reason for keeping Anderson at leadoff involves little more than inertia and fear: Anderson is stuck in his ways, and his manager, Davey Johnson, is fearful that if he moves Anderson down in the lineup, Anderson's production will fall off. As a result, a lot of what could be three-run home runs will continue to come with the bases empty.
RANDALL SCHAU, Kalamazoo, Mich.

Box Scores
In the pitching summary of box scores (POINT AFTER, April 21), I suggest replacing cumbersome fractions (?,? or 1-3, 2-3) with decimals (.1, .2). We aficionados will understand that in the box score 3.1 means 3?. Further, when a starting pitcher is taken out in an inning before anyone is retired, show this with, say, 4.0, to distinguish his being replaced between innings, which could be shown as 4. Same for a relief pitcher who starts an inning and is replaced without a batter being retired in that inning. Usually we can figure this out, but using the .0 would make it clear right away.
TED YOUNG, Santa Fe, N.Mex.

Fun Commercial
How could you have omitted from your top-five ESPN commercials (SCORECARD, April 28) Dan Patrick (center) and Keith Olbermann's meeting Jason Kidd as he arrives by helicopter to hand deliver that day's taped highlights? They ask, "Sure you can't stay?" Kidd replies, "I gotta get back. I have an early practice tomorrow."
DAVE COX, Maumee, Ohio