Thu, Aug. 22

Column: Baseball should take page from Olympic officials

No one should hold out any hope, but once again if Major League Baseball needs a model for how it should deal with steroid offenders in its sport, it should take a page from the U.S. and International Olympic Committees.

Just as was the case late last year for disgraced Olympic champion Marion Jones, the U.S. Olympic Committee essentially ended the career of defending Olympic 100-meter champion Justin Gatlin this week.

Gatlin had hoped for a reduction of his eight-year ban from the sport following a failed drug test in exchange for information about his former coach and others who supplied athletes with drugs.

He got what he hoped for. His suspension was reduced to four years. That disqualifies him from competition in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

More importantly, it effectively ends his hopes for resurrecting his career. Gatlin is 25 years old. That means he will not be eligible to resume competition until he is either 29 or 30 years old, well past the prime years for world-class sprinting.

In Olympic competition, the word is out. If you cheat, you are done. Your career will be over. Your name will be removed from the record books. If at all possible, your steroid-fueled earnings will be taken from you. In court documents filed this week on behalf of Marion Jones, her attorney told the court that the former Olympic champion "has been stripped of her medals, her accomplishments, her wealth and her public standing."

If you want to rid your sport of these chemical Frankensteins, you take the kind of stand Olympic officials are taking. "We have no higher priority than the commitment we have made to clean competition," U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Darryl Seibel told the Associated Press.

Time will tell if Major League Baseball has the same priorities.

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