Friday, January 18, 2013

Will Clemens ever ‘fess up like Armstrong?

I couldn’t care less about cycling and never bought into the myth of Lance Armstrong even before he got caught doping, but I tuned into the first part of Oprah Winfrey’s interview with him out of pure curiosity.

For me, the most astonishing part of the interview was not that he finally told the truth and confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs. The most interesting and infuriating part was his lack of genuine remorse about the way he attacked and tormented good, innocent people who dared to tell the truth about his PED use.

Let’s be clear: Armstrong did not confess because he feels bad about his despicable behavior. He only admitted the truth because the evidence against him was undeniable and because he wants to broker some kind of deal to return to professional cycling one day. He finally came clean only because he wants something in return, a chance to rebuild his legacy. But I don’t think Armstrong’s interview did him any favors. By his own admission, he was a bully and a cheater and I would be shocked if cycling officials decide to give him another chance after all the damage he has done to their sport.

I couldn’t help but wonder if we will eventually see the same kind of confession from Roger Clemens. The former New York Yankees pitcher and 7-time Cy Young award winner has fiercely denied and battled accusations that he used steroids, even through a perjury trial that could have landed him in jail. He has disparaged the reputation of his former trainer Brian McNamee and challenged the memory of his former pal Andy Pettitte in sticking with his story that he did not cheat the game of baseball by using PEDs. But many baseball writers and other observers believe he did and that belief kept him out of the Baseball Hall of Fame on his first try.  

But I doubt Clemens will follow in Armstrong’s footsteps and confess to his sins. I can imagine that Clemens desperately wants to be in the Hall of Fame, but admitting the use of PEDs will probably not be enough to get him in. We saw Mark McGwire tearfully admit to using steroids. While it cleared the path for him to return to baseball, it didn’t win him any more support from the baseball writers, who have consistently chosen to keep him out of the Hall.

Clemens, unlike Armstrong, doesn’t have much to gain from a confession, other than the small chance of Hall induction. He can un-retire whenever he wants and does not need the permission of Major League Baseball to return to the sport since he was not suspended or banished from the game.

If I had to put money on it, I would guess that Clemens will never come clean about his PED use.

Thanks to McSmit via Wikimedia Commons for the Lance Armstrong photo.

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