The Most Notorious Dopers in Sports
Lance Armstrong, like many athletes before him and many who will come after, is forced to answer doping allegations which will come Thursday in a discussion with Oprah Winfrey.
Whether it's the fans' fault for imposing such lofty expectations, the media's for looking the other way for so long or the athletes who really believe an illusion can last a career, doping has become far too prevalent in sports.
The 41-year old who had his titles and accolades stripped will sit down with Winfrey for what fans hope are candid and honest remarks about doping.
While he is the biggest name to be ascribed to performance-enhacing drugs at the moment, he is hardly the first and will most assuredly not be the last.
Here is a breakdown of the biggest names in all of sports to have been associated with doping. Please feel free to chime in with people you felt were excluded or just thoughts on the ones provided.
We really must listen to the kids from Bayside who taught us years ago, there is no hope with dope, or for our purposes, doping.
While many say he snitched-out his fellow players just to sell a book, Canseco still fancies himself something of a hero.
He claims he regrets steroids and professes them to be an overrated tool for athletes. We could go on an on, but he does a much better job of just that on Twitter.
The man continues to have a lifelong love affair with himself.
Ben Johnson flew across the 100-meter track in Seoul during the 1988 Olympics, recording a then-world record time of 9.79.
In the end, he was found to have received a bit of a helping hand in the form of the banned steroid stanozolol.
He was stripped of the gold medal just a day after he won it, a day when his triumph also came in tandem with a regrettable quote, via CNN.
I'd like to say my name is Benjamin Sinclair Johnson Jr, and this world record will last 50 years, maybe 100. A gold medal -- that's something no one can take away from you.
One thing to take from each chapter in this ongoing saga of athletes doping is each one thinks they will be the one to skirt the rules and come away unscathed. Instead they become a forgotten legend or worse, a pariah to a sports-loving nation.
Even that CNN report issues six of the eight finalists in the '88 Seoul race would go on to fail drug tests or be implicated in some way to doping.
In 2007, Marion Jones delivered a heartfelt speech amid sobs when she stated that she betrayed our trust.
The former Olympic star was stripped of her medals and charged with perjury for lying to federal investigators over doping allegations.
While some famous athletes continue to be revered long after admissions of doping, Jones suffered one of the cruelest and humbling outings in sports history.
All five of her Sydney Olympic medals were ripped from her.
The star Yankees 3rd baseman is now beleaguered by two bum hips, and yet another postseason he would very much like to forget.
When A-Rod started his career, he could do no wrong on the field. Now, he seems to be the kind of athlete who is never in the right with any fans outside of the New York area.
In an emotional interview, Rodriguez admitted to ESPN and the world that he had indeed used performance-enhancing drugs for a 3-year period starting in 2001.
He can be seen hobbling to the end of his career at a stadium near you shortly.
If you are looking for a pioneer in steroid life lessons, you don't have to look much further than Lyle Alzado, who passed away from a brain tumor in 1992.
The mountainous man had shriveled because of his disease, something Alzado attributed to long-term steroid use.
His one wish was for others to stop the incessant use of steroids, but that has sadly gone unheeded. As we now know steroids, and the larger label of PEDs, are unfortunately ubiquitous throughout sports.
You just had to know that Manny being Manny would translate into the manner this guy left the sport he dominated for nearly two decades.
Thinking that he could skirt the rules time and again, ManRam was busted not once but twice, first getting popped for using a woman's fertility drug often used by those taking other PED's.
The man known for all his silly antics also amassed 150 games-worth of suspensions at the end of his career.
He was part of the Mt. Rushmore of baseball players who dug in their heels and demanded they played a clean game throughout their career.
Although, he was by far the most shocking inclusion, simply for his adamant claims he was clean. He famously offered, "I have never used steroids. Period..." to a congressional hearing back in 2005.
The man who would be labeled 'Palmeiroid' continues to deny he every knowingly ingested any banned substances, which is kind of a theme here.
Let's take you back to the first three seasons Shawne Merriman was in the league, racking up an astonishing number of sacks for the San Diego Chargers.
As we would find out in 2006, the star linebacker was suspended by the league for testing positive for steroids, via ESPN.
Merriman, for his part, would blame a supplement for the positive test, but never identified that specific supplement.
You can blame the possible steroids or the rash of injuries, but it's clear he has never been the same since 2007, recording just six sacks since that time.
Lance Armstrong's doping scandal is hardly an isolated incident. By all accounts, the sport is decimated by rampant doping.
One of the bigger names to get caught in the recent scrutiny was Floyd Landis, who fought his charge and the stripping of his 2006 Tour de France title for four years after the embarrassment.
It wasn't until 2010 when Landis finally explained that he had indeed doped, and had been doing so for years. More than that, he had some names he wanted to divulge along the way, most notably Lance Armstrong, via a 2010 ESPN report.
Barry Bonds' PED allegations were as large as his ever-growing noggin, overtaking the sport just as he was bringing his career to a historic conclusion.
He may own the home run record and a list of other gaudy accolades, but the BBWAA saw fit to not elect him into the Hall of Fame on his first go around.
As many know, Bonds has long been alleged to have taken steroids, but continues to deny ever knowingly ingested any.
Really, it's time for the sport and its writers to take a step back and realize there is plenty of blame to go around, and many of these players need to be noted for their otherworldly accomplishments.
You could argue he was Hall of Fame bound before his alleged first foray into doping, following Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa's chase for the single-season home run record, so it's time to let Bonds into Cooperstown.
It's very clear the steroid era is far from over, and we are all culpable in this shameful age.
We need to stop classifying these players as the most evil vermin we have ever seen, but continue to look the other way when another obvious illusion presents itself.
You only need to see the short video posted, featuring Lance Armstrong denying incessant doping allegations, to fully understand the shift of this legend's legacy.
The once revered is now the shamed, and it will play out on in an interview with Oprah Winfrey.
While we may not know exactly what is said in the interview aired on Thursday, however recorded on Monday, we do have a sense that things are about to take an emotional turn.
Here is what the AP had for us via a SportsCenter tweet on Monday.
BREAKING: Report: Lance Armstrong admits to using performance-enhancing drugs in interview with Oprah Winfrey (via Associated Press).— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 15, 2013
With Armstrong, it's not the cheating which is hardly a shock considering where other sports have taken our cynicism.
It's the fact that this athlete fed the illusion and demanded that it was true, despite various people surrounding him who stated otherwise.
To those detractors, he bullied them unmercifully. You only need to read a recent column by Yahoo! Sports Dan Wetzel to realize this.
We all experienced the wonderful highs of Armstrong ripping off Tour de France titles on the heels of a comeback from cancer, and now see this dreadful low.
The nation is ready to vilify the man for trying to maintain an illusion of PED-free success. While the sport is rampant with doping issues, we held Armstrong to a much higher moral ground.
Shame on him for his hubris and shame on us for being so gullible.
Hit me up on Twitter for more pop in your culture.