This time around, we must take Hope Solo for her word.
For the record, I'm usually extremely skeptical when it comes to athletes and these sort of stories. If someone is given a sanction, which is what Solo was given after a positive drug test, they constantly come back with the same story.
"I had no idea what I was putting in my body."
"It was just an over-the-counter vitamin."
"My doctor said it would be fine."
Usually my response is always the same: "sure." And more often than not, the response from the United States Anti-Doping Agency, or the USADA, is similarly always the same.
Only instead of "sure," they come down hard with a penalty, and most of the time it's a harsh one.
That's why Solo's case is so interesting. In what has become a rare act, the USADA only gave the United States' goalie a public warning.
For perspective, of the 14 sanctions the USADA has handed out this year, only three have been warnings. In 2011, there were 30 sanctions handed out and zero were of the warning variety.
This type of thing just doesn't happen very often with the USADA.
So why the leniency this time around?
Do you believe Hope Solo in that what she did was a mistake?
To put it simply, because that was what they believed to be the correct ruling. We have to take USADA Chief Executive Officer Travis Tygart at his word when he says (via usada.org), “as in all cases, we thoroughly investigate the circumstances and always do what is fair and right for clean athletes and the integrity of sport.”
In short, the USADA believed Hope Solo when she said she had made an honest mistake. Solo's official statement and apology wasn't much different than other athletes' in the same situation, so her being issued only a warning speaks to her innocence and speaks to the USADA's belief in her.
Additionally, in the last 10 years, Solo is the first soccer player to be given a sanction from the USADA, so when she says (via usada.org), "the medication did not enhance my performance in any way," the inclination is to believe her.
Solo's situation is truly a unique one, and that's why, even if you're a skeptic, you have to believe exactly what she says.