There are many people who have tried to judge my actions, to label me as disgraceful or unethical. Time and again, I’ve had to endure the harassment of the media and the average sports fan, who act as though I’ve done something so outside the bounds of human decency as to defy logic or explanation. Yet I think, if we are all honest we each other, we could agree this is far from the case. For, really, haven’t we all, each and every one of us, ritually abused steroids, in a sense?
I ask again: Is there a single person among us who has not, in one way or another, become obscenely rich and successful through the repeated use of performance-enhancing drugs?
You see, no human being is perfect. That is not to say we are not capable of acts of great virtue, but at the end of the day, I think you would be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t succumbed to the perfectly natural urge to trick their colleagues and the entire world into thinking they won seven Tour de France titles honestly. Surely at some point in our lives, all of us have lied to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency about our repeated use of illicit drugs. Surely we are not so hypocritical as to deny that much.
As people, we are united by our shared experiences. We all live, breathe, fall in love, take steroids, lie to anti-doping officials, make indignant public denials about steroids, cry, achieve dizzying levels of fame and success by continuing to use steroids, laugh. Deep down, that is how we are, and we’re stuck with it.
Obviously, nobody is proud of systematically manipulating the American people into thinking their spectacular athletic triumphs were legitimate when, in reality, they owe every last one of those victories to the use of illegal chemicals. But no one ought to be ashamed of it, either, for all of us have done it, whether by condemning honest journalists as liars, hypocritically firing our personal trainer Michele Ferrari for becoming too closely associated with steroids, or simply denouncing all investigations against us as “a pitiful charade.”
I used steroids. You used steroids. Your friends and coworkers used steroids. Your children have all used steroids. President Obama has used steroids. Show me someone who claims they haven’t used steroids, and I will show you a liar.
So yes, I am a fallible person who has injected special substances into my body in pursuit of professional glory. Just like you, I abused the drugs cortisone, testosterone, and EPO, among many, many others, in order to win an unprecedented number of international bicycle races. Just like your parents and their parents before them, my shameless deception helped me become one of the most celebrated athletes in the world.
But does that mean I should be humiliated, made a pariah, treated as a criminal?
No. It merely means that I am a human being. A human being with a real, living, beating heart. A heart that circulates an unnatural, chemically stimulated number of red blood cells through my veins in order to achieve superhuman levels of stamina. Just like yours.