THE SPORTS DOCTOR- Going under: Landis, Patrick, Donaghy sink to the depths
Experts warn against jumping into the water to save a drowning person because you will most likely be pummeled, clawed, kicked, strangled, and perhaps drowned yourself. An actively drowning person uses any and all means to get himself to the surface, including a rescuer. In a panic, a drowning man will drag his savior down with him.
If you had looked up "drowning" on the Internet this past week, three names might have popped up on Google: Floyd Landis, Danica Patrick, and Tim Donaghy. In the space of just a few days, these three sports figures had to do everything they could to keep their heads above water, including dragging whoever they could into the murky depths in an attempt to save themselves. It's not only a sick spectacle; it's a transparent one as well.
Even people who think the Tour de France is a cruise ship have heard the name Floyd Landis. Once considered Lance Armstrong's heir apparent, the Mennonite from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, won the 2006 Tour– but was almost immediately stripped of his trophy after testing positive for synthetic testosterone.
For years Landis categorically and repeatedly swore he was clean, even going so far as to co-author a book called Positively False: The Real Story of How I Won the Tour de France. It was only last week he admitted it was all a lie (or almost all– he still denies taking synthetic testosterone during the 2006 season, but admits using HGH at that time).
There's really no surprise in Landis' lying, and given how long he kept it up, there's no surprise that he doesn't feel guilty about doping either. "I don't feel guilty at all about having doped," Landis told ESPN.com. (Wow.) Perhaps even less surprising is the way Landis, in the same breath as his confession, and in classic Jose Canseco style, accused former teammates and competitors of not only doing what he did (HGH EPO, estrogen, and testosterone), but of doing much worse.
Is it any surprise that to save himself, Landis named America's three most popular cyclists, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, and George Hincapie, along myriad other European riders?
Danica Patrick isn't just implicating her team; she's actually blaming them for her troubles. Patrick held everyone but herself responsible for her poor performance (23rd) at the Indianapolis 500 qualifier last week. Over the racetrack's public address system, Patrick said her car was "totally skating across the track" and wasn't "set up right," implicating her mechanics and pit crew.
She was immediately and, according to Deadspin, lustily booed by her very recent fans in the grandstand. Apparently in Indy-racing, it's bad form to blame problems on the cars or the crew, even if they are responsible for a poor performance.
But we always knew Danica Patrick was a bit tacky, didn't we?
Perhaps the most overt and unbelievable attempt by a drowning man to save himself came in the form of disgraced referee Tim Donaghy and his allegations that the NBA manipulated playoff games.
Let that sink in for a second: according to Donaghy, the NBA manipulated playoff games. Donaghy, a man who was convicted of and served 15 months for felonious gambling on games he officiated, a man who was sent back to prison after violating his release agreement, and a man who admits to giving game information to people associated with organized crime, is accusing the NBA of telling referees which players to crack down on and for what (Yao Ming: traveling violations).
In an interview with Dan Patrick, Donaghy said there were "three or four games in the playoffs where I felt I had inside information."
What are we to make of all this clawing and kicking?
At best Landis, Patrick, and Donaghy are tattletales– at worst they're liars, slanderers, and cowards. Unquestionably it's too much to expect a cheater, a diva, and a felon to cultivate personal integrity during their downtime, but one would think that in these dire times, Landis, Patrick, and Donaghy would attempt to mask the fact that they're drowning, instead of doing it so publicly.
Of course, the kicking and clawing are for naught anyway– no one's jumping in to save them.
Juanita Giles lives in Keysville where she makes videos and updates her Sports Doctor site.