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Players oddly mum on steroids

On Sports

Put yourself in Roger Clemens' shoes just for a moment. You've done things as a major league pitcher that seemed impossible, even as you accomplished them. At age 33, the Boston Red Sox gave you a goodbye kiss and allowed you to go to Toronto as a free agent. You'd gone 10-13 in 1996, your final season in Boston.

Washed up. That's what a lot of people said. They said your magic - and your fastball and your endurance - was gone.

Then came some incredible seasons. You went 21-7 and 20-6 with the Blue Jays, went on to rack up unbelievable seasons of 20-3 and 18-4 and were still pitching, effectively, at 44.

It was some ridiculous, hard-to-believe stuff.

But let me ask you just one important question, OK?

While you were doing all that incredible pitching in your late 30s and early 40s, why in the world didn't you voluntarily take a steroid test? Why, in fact, didn't you jump on a soap box and demand that all your brethren in the big leagues be tested for steroids?

Clemens now insists he was drug-free while defying the laws of nature with his late-career baseball success. He's rather indignant about it. And for a man who seems that insulted about talk that he used steroids and/or human growth hormone, I don't see why he didn't take reasonable steps at the time to prove his innocence.

Clemens certainly knew people were whispering for years about his possible performance-enhancing drug use. And really, if the man was truly clean I can't imagine how insulted he would have been to know that others were building their late-career success with the help of drugs and he wasn't using them.

Seriously, when everyone else is cheating and you're not, wouldn't you do everything you could to prove your innocence - and their guilt? Wouldn't you have been incensed that the cheaters were taking shortcuts while you were doing it the hard way?

But the one thing that bothers me about this whole PED issue is that major league players who did not use the drugs have been so strangely silent. Are they that gutless?

Are they that intimidated by the drug users that they're afraid to step up and demand a testing program that would level the playing field and allow them to compete against those who have a big advantage over them?

It makes no sense to me. Where are the sport's leaders? Why are they not demanding their union take control of the situation and run the cheaters out of the sport?

I've never worried too much about the sanctity of baseball's record book throughout this steroid controversy. Numbers are just numbers. They've never really meant that much to me. But for a long time, I felt sorry for the players who've tried to compete for jobs and success while at a competitive disadvantage because they refused to use PEDs.

There is so much money at stake -Clemens' apparent use of steroids and/or HGH earned him, including endorsements, hundreds of millions of dollars.

So why haven't the clean players, the ones still trying to make a mark in the majors without some sort of chemical enhancement, spoken out?

Well, all you can figure is that maybe there aren't enough of the clean ones to make much of a fuss.

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