Navratilova and More

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Navratilova and More

This is Diana Nyad for KCRW, and this is The Score.

A few subjects on my mind this week.

First, all the complaints about the US Open golf course. There were as many articles about the tough conditions at Shinnecock in New York as there were about Tiger-s downward spiral. Many players called the 7th hole unplayable. One said to understand how ridiculous that green was, you should imagine sitting in your car, throwing a ball outside your window up the windshield onto the roof and hoping the ball would somehow find the hole up there. It was so tough that during the final round on Sunday, not one player came in under par. The gallery was supposedly denied spectacular shot-making.

Well, I have to say that I-ve never been a fan of the plastic-looking azaleas of the Masters course at Augusta, where everything is so sweet and perfect that you expect Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to come out and rake the sand traps. To me, the rough-and-tumble, wide open, wind-swept course at Shinnecock was a thrilling throwback to golf-s roots in Britain and Scotland. I was taken in by the players who were tenacious enough to grit their way through the adverse conditions. Funny, too, isn-t it, that there was one player who called the greens so dry they were -dead- but never complained. That was the winner, Retief Gooson.

I found myself feeling angry this past week-end at the continuing assault on track sensation Marion Jones. After Jones finished 5th in the 100 meters at the Prefontaine Classic at Eugene, Oregon, she took a moment to sit by herself, pensively, on a bench. Jones is not technically under investigation for drug use, but the insinuations and suspicions by The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency throw her name into daily, glaring, negative headlines.

She was classy, as always, when she said her poor finish had nothing to do with the continuing probe toward the truth of her possible use of illegal substances. But the suspicions seem to be taking a toll-and seem to be unfounded.

Jones has never once failed a drug test, and she-s taken dozens of them. She has just passed a lie-detector test, where the needle didn-t budge when she stated that she has never in her life used any performance enhancing drug whatsoever. She has pushed USADA, the drug agency, to make their inquiries public so the world press can hear their questions-and her answers.

True, Marion has associated with less than upstanding characters. Her ex-husband CJ Hunter was found guilty of doping during the Sydney Games. He evidently wrote checks from their joint account for banned substances to the Bay Area Lab, Balco, now under fire for providing boatloads of drugs to many athletes. And Marion-s current life partner, sprinter Tim Montgomery, has been formally charged and faces a lifetime ban for doping. But since when did guilt by association hold any legal credence?

I say either charge this athlete today or leave her be to pursue her Olympic medals.

And how can I let this week go by without applauding-no bowing in admiration to Martina Navratilova? At 47, ancient in the game of tennis, she strides onto the grass at Wimbledon, a place as comfortable as home to her, with 20 titles to her name, and not only plays her first singles match in 10 years-but whips a 24-year-old by a score of 6-0, 6-1. She did lose today to a 19-year-old but she looked fit as a marine and still showed sparks of her champion spirit. Roger Federer, the men-s number-one seed and defending Wimbledon champ, said it best. Especially given the history of disrespect of women players by their male counterparts. After his first-round win, Roger was asked in the press tent who the three greatest living athletes are. He quickly replied, -Michael Jordon. Michael Shumacher-and will you guys give me some time to think about the third?- Then as he was exiting the tent, he turned back to the press and said, -Navratilova-.

No doubt, Roger. No doubt.

This is Diana Nyad for KCRW, and that-s The Score.



Diana Nyad