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Call me a skeptic
July 8, 2008 - Jody Murphy
Do you believe the story of Dana Torres?
Torres is a 41-year-old Olympic swimmer who qualified for both the Olympics' 50 and 100-meter freestyle events. She announced she would not compete in the 100-meter event, instead choosing to focus solely on the 50-meter event, where she established a new American record in the trials.
In addition to being 41-years-old, Torres, who has been retired since 2000 ä her second attempt at retirement, has undergone two surgeries (shoulder and knee) in the last year. And she gave birth two years ago.
Torres, who first competed at the 1984 Olympics, didn't just become the oldest American swimmer to ever qualify for the Olympics, she set a record at the trials, beating athletes half her age!
Torres isn't unheralded. She owns nine Olympic medals, including five (two golds and three bronze) from the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
This is the kind of story that's a dream come true. A fairy tale.
It seems to good to be true. For me, it is.
Torres knows all about the whispers. Even at 33, when she won five medals in Sydney, there was talk she was on something.
She confronted it head on. She has been outspoken about being clean. So much so Torres volunteered to undergo extra testing. Since March she's been tested at least a dozen times with no telltale signs of illegal drugs in her system.
I still don't believe it or her and for that I am sorry.
Color me a skeptic or a cynic. But can you blame me? In the post-steroid era of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Marion Jones and Floyd Landis, can you blame me, or anyone else, for being skeptical of Torres' performance?
The American creed is "Innocent until proven guilty," but I am more along the lines of fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me.
I have not forgotten Jones' steadfast denials or Rafael Palmeiro's emphatic Congressional denials or the Bonds' evidence, despite the fact he never failed a drug test. Anybody remember Sports Illustrated's article on The Rocket's super-intense training regimen a few years ago?
That's Torres' story too. Not just frm her, but also the medical community. Her training is unprecedented and amazing.
Nope. I ain't buying it. Not this time. And for that I apologize to Torres.
It ain't fair she be judged guilty despite a lack of proof. It is admittedly unfair skeptics, including myself, assume she's a cheater because athletes her age who shouldn't be competing against competitors old enough to be her children are not not only doing so, but winning.
Too many other pro athletes younger than her have been doing it for the last few years - with the aid of illegal drugs. Because of that, they tainted not just themselves and their sports, but all sports.
Athletes like Bonds, Jones and Clemens have not only ruined my belief in pure record-setting performance they have me on guard for shenanigans regarding any over-the-hill athletes doing something bordering on improbable if not impossible. Which by the way, is why said athletes who cheat should be banned for life - because it ruins things for everyone who follows them.
The sad fact is there is nothing Torres can do. Damned if she does - takes and fails a drug test - and damned if she doesn't - continues to pass drug tests and wins. The specter of cheating is already there (for me anyway). And there is nothing Torres can do about it.
It's not her fault.
But it's not my fault either.
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Quite a body for a 41-year-old!