By Jeff Girod
The meat did it! That’s according to cyclist Alberto Contador, 2010 Tour de France winner, who recently said the reason he failed a doping test was because he ate—wait for it—a contaminated steak.
Talk about super-sizing dinner. Contador’s urine sample showed trace amounts of Clenbuterol, a banned stimulant that builds lean muscle mass and is also used as asthma medication. The three-time Tour champion blamed filet mignon he ate between consecutive race stages, vowing to clear his name and not let cycling’s latest drug scandal “destroy everything that I have done . . . you know, except for the part where I knowingly took steroids and then blamed a cow.”
Sometimes I like my steak with a little A-1 sauce, but I could see how Contador could confuse A-1 with a bottle of prescription medication. (Both have white caps and are impossible to open, though the dead giveaway should have been the cotton in the Clenbuterol.)
Drug testing has become almost as entertaining as the sports they test. It’s always a treat when an athlete who hasn’t opened a textbook since puberty starts dropping knowledge like Bill Nye the Science Guy. While the rest of us were doing things in high school like paying attention and actually finishing our biology homework, jocks like Alberto Contador were flexing their calf muscles in front of a mirror.
And apparently all that “working out” has earned Alberto Contador the equivalent of a PhD in biogenetic chemistry, or so he tells us. I mean, why should we listen to the World Anti-Doping Agency lab in Germany after it tested not one, but TWO different samples of Contador’s urine? What could they possibly know? It’s just an internationally renowned laboratory full of incredibly smart scientists. I’d rather get my data from Contador, a guy who makes his living wearing neon Spandex shorts and pedaling up hills really, really fast.
But Contador isn’t the only drug cheat to offer an excuse that couldn’t pass an 8th-grade chemistry quiz.
In 2006, Tour De France winner and Temecula’s own Floyd Landis suggested that drinking Jack Daniels whiskey caused him to test positive for elevated levels of testosterone. Now I have done some pretty crazy stuff after a night of guzzling whiskey, but to the best of my knowledge, I have never, ever regained consciousness and discovered that I won the Tour de France. Not even that one time in Vegas.
In 2008, Olympic sprinter Dennis Mitchell said there could be only one reason for his elevated levels of testosterone: Sex with his wife four times in one night plus five bottles of beer which, if you ask me, deserves its own gold medal.
Cyclist Tyler Hamilton said the reason he had somebody else’s blood in his veins was because his body absorbed a twin in the womb. Former baseball player Barry Bonds said he mistook steroids for flaxseed oil, while fellow slugger Rafael Palmeiro thought he was injecting a vitamin B-12 shot. British shot-putter Paul Edwards blamed his failed test on drinking an entire bottle of shampoo.
And just this past August, former USC linebacker Brian Cushing, who received a four-game suspension from the Houston Texans for violating the NFL’s steroid policy, claimed he suffered from a unique medical condition stemming from something called “over-trained athlete syndrome.” I think I speak for all of us when I say, “Hang in there, Brian Cushing, you brave little, rage-prone, back-acne covered trooper. We’re all praying that you and your 46-inch neck somehow find the inner strength to beat this crippling disease that causes you to run faster, tackle running backs and fly to Hawaii every February for a Pro Bowl.”
Bottom line: Athletes are good at sports. But they pretty much suck at book learnin‘. And asking an athlete to explain why he got popped on a drug test is like asking a caveman why his cave doesn’t have FiOS Internet and Dolby Digital Surround Sound. He’ll just point at the first thing he sees, grunt a little and hope you buy his lame-assed excuse.
“Bad steak” makes perfect sense in his tiny little athlete mind. And if you don’t buy it, who cares? We’ll just keep watching sports. Science is boring anyway.
Contact Jeff Girod at firstname.lastname@example.org.