I could care less that Lance Armstrong blood doped. I could care even less whether Barry Bonds and half of baseball uses steroids. They are playing games that happen to be big business.
Yes, they either did or may have cheated. But why is this is a national crime?
Should the FBI and the Department of Justice be spending inordinate amount of resources going after them?
Yes, they broke the law. But let’s put this in perspective.
Exactly how much damage did they do? Bring shame to baseball? Check out the Baseball Hall of Fame. It has its share of drunks, adulterers, and scoundrels. As for pro cycling, it isn’t exactly a bunch of Boy Scouts.
Some federal prosecutors say these guys are role models. If lying to impressionable young minds is a crime, then virtually everyone elected to office in Washington, D.C. is looking at 10 years to life.
And exactly what are we protecting in baseball? Is it the right of millionaire owners to shake down cities for public funds to build stadiums that have questionable returns? Perhaps it’s their ability to take money away from infrastructure needed to create real jobs instead of those for people pushing peanuts, taking tickets, and a few hundred privileged millionaires playing baseball for a living.
We are told Armstrong defrauded the Postal Service. The Post Office was a team sponsor for Armstrong during several of his Tour de France wins.
The real crime isn’t the fact Armstrong used illegal enhancements to present himself as a winner worth sponsoring but the fact the Postal Service saw fit to spend money to sponsor a bicycle racing team.
The Post Office isn’t Lowe’s, Home Depot or Radio Shack. What do they need publicity for in the first place? Shouldn’t the Postal Service be worried about the multi-billion dollar hole that Congress dug for them by requiring the service to fund retirement obligations upfront? Exactly how did having their name on Armstrong’s jersey increase business or brand awareness for the Postal Service?
Then there is the issue of balance and use of federal resources.
Barry Bonds, Dwight McGuire, Lance Armstrong, and a couple 747s full of pro athletes who cheated by using illegal methods to enhance performance didn’t exactly cause widespread damage to the republic.
That certainly wasn’t the case to the tens of thousands of people — if not more — who had to be complacent in the funny money mortgages that took our economy into a deep dive.
Armstrong’s blood doping didn’t wipe out billions of dollars in retirement funds tied to “safe” mortgage instruments. Nor did any steroid taken by baseball athletes throw a single family of four out onto the street.
You will notice one thing about the way Uncle Sam prosecutes. He uses double standards. To go after medical marijuana clinics the federal government arrests landlords or the people that provided the venue.
So why not go after the baseball team owners? They certainly have a high degree of culpability considering the type of control freaks they are in other aspects of their operations. And certainly the Postal Service shouldn’t get a pass for their role in not insisting that the team they sponsored was a pure as the driven snow.
What Armstrong did was illegal and unethical. He should be punished. Rest assured the civic courts will take care of that.
But it wasn’t the crime of the century. Those responsible parties are still roaming Wall Street.
This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Journal or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.