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Super Bowl gladiators? PEDs? Who cares?

By Joe Conway @joeaconway

It’s Super Bowl week in America. Denver versus Seattle in New York, New Jersey. America’s gladiators battle Sunday for the sport’s greatest prize at Met Life Stadium in New Jersey.

I’ll be hosting a Super Bowl party. It’s a spectacle like no other — the Super Bowl that is (not so much my party).

This writer covered Super Bowl XXXVIII in my adopted hometown of Houston and for me it ranks third in events I have covered (1. World Cup Final in 2006 and 2. Atlanta Olympics).

The 2004 edition of the NFL’s behemoth of an event was best remembered or rather most notorious for the Justin Timberlake/Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction during halftime of Super Bowl XXXVIII. How could we forget that little peep show?

But, I digress.

The NFL is a marketing machine that protects its brand with an iron fist. In tandem with the players union, the league has managed to divert attention away from the ongoing issues with performance enhancing drugs in US pro sports.

It’s a clever strategy. The NFL has this “substance abuse policy” and in agreement with the players union has a deal where player suspensions are announced without revealing what substance has produced the positive test.

This is damage control at its finest. The league minimizes the bad PR and the players return after four weeks (without being scorned) when popped for the first time. Tough crowd, huh?

One player was reputedly caught with a women’s fertility drug which by all accounts can be illicitly used by males to restart the production of testosterone after the body shuts it off following a cycle of steroids. The player trotted out some lame excuse about his test being caused by the little known over-tired syndrome. Really? As one observer quipped about this fallacy: “That’s a little bit like finding the Loch Ness Monster in Lake Tahoe.”

No USADA code in sight. WADA? What? Bet the house on this: The NFL will never adopt the WADA code.

The league’s collective bargaining agreement means the players truly have a lot of power and the risks are well worth the reward. Minimum salaries in the NFL are in the $400,000 a year range. If the league tried to adopt the WADA code, players would strike. And they can, have and will again at some point if they don’t get what they want.

While the NFL has figured out a way to manage PEDs, baseball is still recovering from the so-called steroid era.

Superstar baseball player Alex Rodriguez reportedly spent a tidy $12,000 a month on his PED regimen. According to Baseball Reference, A-Rod has earned a massive $353 million during his 20-year Major League Baseball career.  Check the numbers here. Risk worth the reward? Apparently so.

It is not right, but it is reality.

American football will never be Olympic sports. Baseball might be America’s sport but it will never again grace the Summer Olympics. Who cares?

So for all the issues around drugs in track and field, the WADA code has some comparative teeth and the testers in many countries actively target the cheaters.

That’s what most track and field athletes, aficionados, coaches and officials want.

The average American sports fan really doesn’t care if the NFL gridiron gladiators are juiced up. Neither does the adoring media.

Enjoy the show.


English headlines AAI Games and Ireland’s best compete in European Clubs Cross

Mark English will be opening his indoor season at the Woodie’s DIY AAI Games this Sunday and the excitement is building with an Irish indoor 800m record (1:47.21 by Daniel Caulfield) surely on the cards in the coming weeks.

A potential world final is his aim for the indoor season but he’ll have to get the tough qualifying standard of 1:47.00 first. This Sunday he’s up against Spain’s Alex Rodriguez and will be paced by Le Cheile’s David McCarthy.

There should be plenty of exciting races and Jumping the Gun will be there once again on the Athletics Ireland live stream.

The European Clubs Cross Country Championships are on Sunday too with DSD, junior men and women, Raheny Shamrock women and Clonliffe Harriers men will be representing Ireland.

Check out our latest podcast with Mary Cullen which is proving very popular. We’ll report more tomorrow.

Galen Rupp
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Feidhlim Kelly

Feidhlim Kelly

Con Houlihan once told me that tomorrow is now. In taking on this venture I’ve started to try and put his words into action.

I worked for Con from 2007 till his passing in 2012 taking down his copy and a whole lot more. I have a Con Houlihan section which will go in to more depth on that.

I’m a long-time contributor to the Irish Runner magazine and am also working for the Irish Examiner.

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