Forget Cheating In Sports, The Real Problem is Overtrained Athletes

Adam RichardsonContributor IAugust 12, 2010

HOUSTON - JANUARY 03:  <Linebacker Brian Cushing #56 reacts after sacking New England quarterback Brian Hoyer at Reliant Stadium on January 3, 2010 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

If you were to believe Brian Cushing and his most recent excuse for a positive HCG test, then you’d be forced to forget most of what we as a society have learned over the past 20 years.

Cushing tested positive and was suspended for four games by the NFL. Now, Cushing and Houston Texans owner Bob McNair want us to believe that Cushing is not a user of performance enhancing drugs. In fact if anything Cushing is a victim.

Cushing suffers from a rare (as in 1 in six billion rare) disease called Overtrained Athlete Syndrome. Not one to say someone is lying, I will give the Associated Press’s Defensive Rookie of the Year the benefit of the doubt. I’m sure the first person who appeared to have Polio was simply accused of some illegal practice and decades later they found out that it was a biological condition.

According to what Cushing’s agent he has numerous doctors supporting the linebacker’s claim that, his high HCG levels are a result of excessive physical work outs. The excessive strain on the body then (supposedly) can trigger spikes in hormone levels.

It seems downright ridiculous right? An athlete testing positive for a hormone increases without having done anything illegal or immoral.

A little research on the matter turned up other cases of Overtrained Athlete Syndrome similar to Cushing’s.

For instance, there is a baseball player who currently holds the Major League homerun record. For the past eight years he has been the subject of great public scorn and as of this moment is unofficially black balled from MLB. The accusation is that Barry Bonds used HGH, a cream and a clear, but in fact he is another sufferer of OAS.  Bonds’ OAS led to more than 30lbs in pure muscle weight gain after the age of 30 and an exponential growth in skull size.

Champion cyclist Floyd Landis is another victim. Landis’ OAS not only caused a spike in hormone levels but erratic and insane behavior. It caused Landis to cry foul after a positive drug test, accuse other athletes of doping, perjury in court, and lastly make wild accusations about watching Lance Armstrong injection not only himself but others in an orgy of needles and performance enhancing drugs.

OAS caused Marion Jones more harm than any athlete before her. Jones was the golden girl of the 2000 Olympic Games. However, in 2007 her OAS caused her to admit to “designer steroid” use. This admission not only resulted in Jones being stripped of her gold medals but a sentence to six months in prison. The worst was yet to come. In 2009 Jones’ OAS struck again when she announced her intentions to join the WNBA.

Many may read this piece and think I am mocking Cushing, his agent, and Texans owner Bob McNair, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I am to trying simply shed light on a problem that has been pervasive in our sport culture for almost a century.

When “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and eight members of 1919 Chicago White Sox were revealed to have “thrown” the Worlds Series it was initially thought that mafia influences had infiltrated the White Sox clubhouse. History was wrong. In fact, as those that were alive at the time know, the summer of 1919 was a brutally hot one in Chicago. The combination of heat exhaustion and a pennant race would lead to clear cases of OAS (the other 17 players on the White Sox roster were privy to air conditioning).

It is said Henry Hill and Jimmy Burke (notorious New York Mobsters made famous in Goodfellas) were behind the 1979-1980 Boston College point shaving scandal; however, scientists have shown that the levels of airborne OAS were especially high in the New England area during those few years.

Many think Ty Cobb was simply a bigot and mean SOB or Pete Rose is a conniving low life. Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez, Jason Giambi, Alex Rodriguez are or have all suffered from noted cases of OAS.  The most tragic case is of former Padres and Astros third baseman Ken Caminiti, who died in 2004 with an enlarged heart and coronary artery disease all caused by OAS.

To believe Brian Cushing, his agent, and his profiteering owner Bob McNair is to trivialize the human condition. It would be to ignore the repeated reports that followed Cushing since high school that he was a avid doper. “Overtrained Athlete Syndrome” would marginalize the deaths of former pro wrestler Chris Benoit’s family who were murdered in a psychotic rage by Benoit before he turned the gun on himself.

Performance enhancing drugs have real consequences that have nothing to do with hormone levels. Just ask Denise and Ray Garibaldi who’s 24 year-old son Ray committed suicide after 8 years of abusing performance enhancers. To lie in the name of science would be to commit a terrible sin. OAS is simply another term for greed and stupidity. Mr. Cushing and Mr. McNair please don’t assume we are all so simple.