This is Diana Nyad for KCRW, and this is The Score.
Sad to say but 2007's biggest moments in sports aren't thrilling come-from-behind victories, nor veterans capturing one last magic carpet ride.
Well, Brett Favre has sparked a good dose of fairy dust this NFL season, jumping for joy like a Pop Warner kid as he leads his Packers toward a potential Super Bowl appearance. Also in the NFL, we have been privileged to watch the emergence of a certain future superstar. Adrian Peterson of the Vikings evokes memories of His Sweetness, Walter Payton. Running out of the backfield doesn't get any sweeter than that.
And there was the grand welcome for England's soccer son David Beckham. Becks' injuries limited him to only five games in the first year of his five-year, $250 million contract with the LA Galaxy, but never mind. Becks and wife Posh Spice brought a welcome flash of glamour to the American sports stage. Gator Nation was abuzz early in the year when the University of Florida became the first National Champions in both football and basketball.
No doubt we can summon up many flashy highlights from the wide world of sports this year. But the three biggest moments, the three biggest names, all tethered together by way of one negative stamp, were Floyd Landis, Marion Jones and Barry Bonds. When Bonds clobbered homer #756 on August 7 and, as new home-run king, captured what is considered the most revered title in all of sports, the celebration was muted. The public as well as the pundits weighed in to call for smudging Bonds' name with an asterisk in the record books, allegations of his steroid use widely assumed to be true. Bonds has now been named in last week's Mitchell Report as a steroid user. Number756 would have, should have been worldwide inspiration, uplifting history in the making. Instead, we the fans were left confused and disillusioned.
And the Marion Jones confession was a killer. She handed back the five medals she had unfairly won at the Sydney Games and her name has now been erased from those record books. If 2000 was her year of glory, 2007 was her year of shame. That's going to be my
memory of this year in sports. Champions crashing down off their pedestals.
Yet for all this disenchantment and the opening of our eyes to the very real and wrong use of illegal drugs across the sports universe, I do believe there is on the other hand something of a McCarthyesque witch hunt in the making as well. Last week's Mitchell Report is helpful to the game of baseball in terms of coming to terms with just how much performance drug use has been going on.
But it's wrong to publish a great player's name as a cheat, a player such as Yankee pitcher Andy Pettitte, when Pettitte evidently took Human Growth Hormone, not then banned in the sport, exactly twice. And took it twice, by the way, when he was on injured reserve and not even pitching, on his doctor's advice in order to promote healing of an elbow. The list of players found to be dirty in the Mitchell Report has been presented as if they are lepers. If the Pettitte case mirrors others in the report, I'm incensed.
Remember Andreea Raducan, Romanian gymnast at the Sydney Games, stripped of her individual all-round gold medal because the team doctor gave her over-the-counter cold medicine which contained trace amounts of the banned substance pseudoephedrine? Raducan had already won gold and silver earlier in the Games. She wasn't dirty then. Several days later she was considered a cheat. Both common sense and science tell us that cold medicine didn't make her a better athlete overnight.
2007 was a bombshell year for hunting down the true cheats in sport. Yet, at the very same time, we're on a slippery slope toward unjust ruination of reputations and careers.
This is Diana Nyad for KCRW, and that's The Score.
Romania's gold medal winner Andreea Raducan (C) acknowledges the crowd as teammates Simona Amanar (L) and Maria Olaru (R) applaud, 21 September 2000 at the SuperDome, following the women's gymnastics all-around final at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Photo: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images