If there was any innocence left to lose in American track and field, it probably flew right out the window of the San Francisco courtroom where Antonio Pettigrew today admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs for several years, including during the Sydney Olympics, where he was on the - how hard this is now to write - "winning" 4x400-meter relay team. Trevor Graham, his coach at the time, is on trial for perjury, and how much more helpful this whole exercise would be if the people who took drugs and supplied them during this dirtiest of eras in track and field would come forward - all of them - and just tell the truth. Why is that so difficult? Probably because the drugs turned nobodies into somebodies, and those who admit to drug use go from being Olympic heroes to being nobodies, and drug cheats to boot. Problem is, somebody earned those gold medals, but it wasn't the drug cheats. It was the athletes running clean behind them - if in fact there were any. It's hard to know what to believe anymore, but here's one thing I believe: the United States is going to have a lot of 'splaining to do to the entire international athletics community for a long time over this. I wonder how many generations of athletes will have to contend with being less than supported by the track fans in Europe (who somehow suspected all of this way before Graham, Marion Jones and all the others got caught on this side of the ocean) before the world finally begins to believe in the United States again, "the world's best track and field team."
(By the way, this blog posting was written by a long-time track fan and competitive participant in the sport. It's my favorite Olympic sport, bar none, and my favorite all-around sport because I love the fact that anyone of any body type and any level of talent can find a spot on a high school track team, even if you're the slow kid in the mile. I want track to succeed, but to do so, this mess has to be cleaned up once and for all, and the USATF has to take the lead on this issue going forward.)