With every other week seemingly bringing news about some professional athlete’s positive steroid or doping test, it seems like each athlete comes up with their own unique, bizarre excuse. Here are the top 5 excuses.
1. Roger Clemens “He must have misremembered.”
When questioned by the congressional committee on why his friend and teammate Andy Pettitte claimed that Clemens admitted using human growth hormone (HGH), Clemens replied with “Pettitte must have ‘misremembered him'”. Not only did Clemens embarrass himself with a ridiculous excuse, he created a new term for the urban dictionary. Despite being dominant on the pitching mound, Clemens showed he is overmatched when attempting to use proper grammar and English.
2. Marion Jones “I didn’t love myself enough.”
Marion Jones won 3 gold medals and 2 silver medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympics while on a designer steroid known as the “clear”. Jones claims she thought she was taking flaxseed oil until federal prosecutors questioned her with a vial of the steroid present. She claims to have recognized what she was taking as the vial, but still decided to deny taking the steroid because she knew that her medals would be questioned. When Jones went on the Oprah Winfrey show after being released from federal prison for lying about steroid use, she said the reason that she lied about the steroid usage was because, “I didn’t love myself enough to tell the truth”.
3. Tyler Hamilton “I have two kinds of blood because my twin died in utero. I am a chimera.”
Cyclist Tyler Hamilton tested positive for blood doping by the World Anti-Doping Agency and was banned from cycling for two years. In Hamilton’s appeal, his scientific expert argued that the different blood found in Hamilton’s test must have come from a “vanishing twin”. This phenomenon, known as being a “chimera”, is when a twin dies in utero but contributes some blood to its sibling before passing away. Although chimerism is real, Hamilton tested negative a few months after his positive test. Thus, the chimera defense was not successful, but will forever live in infamy as the most creative doping excuse.
4. Rafael Palmeiro “I though it was a vitamin B-12 shot.”
Prior to testing positive for steroids, Palmeiro made himself famous for waving his finger and demonstrably denying being involved with steroids during a congressional hearing on steroids. Ironically, Palmeiro tested positive for steroids soon after and trotted out a litany of excuses. After making statements like, “Why would I take the chance?” Palmeiro realized no one was falling for it. He came up with the excuse that a teammate, Miguel Tejada, must have given him a tainted vitamin B12 injection. Palmeiro found a way to make a terrible excuse and throw a teammate under the bus.
5. Bonds “I though it was flax-seed oil.”
Barry Bonds famous steroid saga is well documented in the brilliant book Game of Shadows. Bonds testified in front of a grand jury due to his involvement in the BALCO (Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative) steroid scandal. The San Francisco Giants star told the grand jury that his trainer provided him with a clear substance and rubbing balm. These substances were well known to the grand jury as the steroid known as “the clear”, THG, and “the cream”, testosterone. However, Bonds stated that he thought that they were flaxseed oil and an arthritis rubbing balm. Later, the book Game of Shadows illustrates through thousands of documents and interviews how Bonds was on a number of performance enhancing drugs when he hit a record 73 home runs in 2001. In addition to the clear and the cream, the list includes human growth hormone and trenblone, a steroid used to increase muscle mass in livestock.
ESPN, “Clemens says Pettitte misremembered him” MLB news
USA Today “Runner Marion Jones: ‘I didn’t love myself enough'” Carla Johnson
NY Times “Cheating, or an Early Mingling of the Blood” Gina Kolata
Baltimore Sun “Palmeiro speaks” Dan Connolly
San Francisco Chronicle “What Bonds told BALCO grand jury” Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada
Book “Game of Shadows” Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wadawww.gameofshadows.com