Single page view By Patrick Hruby
Page 2

Rafael Palmeiro had no idea. No clue, really. One moment, he's downing an innocent protein shake, ingesting some blameless flaxseed oil, getting pinpricked by something that fell from a syringe tree.

And the next? He's busted for stanozolol, the same industrial-grade steroid that helped Ben Johnson dust the 100-meter dash field at the Seoul Olympics, then glow in the dark.

Rafael Palmeiro
Come to think of it, Palmeiro does look a bit like Ben Johnson sprinting to first base.


Some guys have all the luck.

Last week, I wrote that Palmeiro's failed drug test was -- like the man himself -- too dull to get worked up about. Oops. My mistake. Let me be clear: I was wrong. Fact is, I'm pretty upset. Outraged, even.

And no, this has nothing to do with a private citizen possibly lying to Congress. Hey, turnabout is fair play.

Really, what has me steamed is the sheer inequity of the situation. It's bad enough that multi-millionaire sports stars enjoy perks and freebies the rest of us multi-thousandaires can only dream of -- comped four-star hotel rooms, on-the-house evenings at the Gold Club, overstuffed sponsor gift bags at every paid personal appearance.

Heck, guys like Palmeiro probably get to glide through those first-class airport security lines, too -- never mind that they're taxpayer-funded.

But gratis steroids to boot?

This is patently unfair.

Page 2's Guide to Steroid Excuses
These guys need help, because the "I didn't do it" excuse is getting tired. If the positive testees check out our helpful guide to excuses, they won't sound so lame when they deny their guilt.

I take vitamins every morning. Pop joint-soothing glucosamine for a bum wrist. As I write this, a can of chocolate-flavored protein powder sits in my kitchen cupboard. The ingredients read as follows:


Appetizing, right? Yum. Frankly, it tastes like it sounds -- which is to say, like cocoa-dusted dirt. Still, I chug a few of these foul concoctions every week, hoping for some sort of workout boost. And you know what the label never, ever says?


Like I said, some guys have all the luck.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not condoning steroid use. Performance-enhancing drugs aren't for kids. They aren't for adults without medical supervision. They seem to have made Jose Canseco both dopier and more oily, which is no small thing considering the man in question.

Also, steroids are illegal.

Which, of course, makes them valuable.

Which is why I'm ticked off.

Fact is, Palmeiro and every other honest, well-meaning athlete to set sail on the S.S. Tainted Supplement has enjoyed a free lunch. Found a $20 bill on the quarterdeck. Gotten something for nothing.

Meanwhile, the only taint in my supplements is a nasty aftertaste.

Suppose I want some of the same substance Palmeiro didn't know was in his body and probably can't pronounce. I could purchase Winstrol on the black market -- only it's pricey, and I would risk arrest and/or talking to those scary meathead guys who hang out at the back of my old gym. Alternately, I could make a trip to a Mexican pharmacia, which would require a working knowledge of both the Spanish language and veterinary medicine.


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