With all the doping allegations and medal stripping going on, Page 2 decided to make it a little easier on the folks covering the Games in Athens.
So, with our compliments, here's the template for the column they'll all be writing and we'll all be reading as soon as our favorite (athlete/coach/team/trainer) is caught with his or her hands in the THG jar.
Doping Taints Games:
The disqualification of ___ ___ last night, after it was disclosed that (he/she) tested positive for (HGH/steroids/Furosemide/pseudoephedrine) is the shame of the (Olympic movement/USATF/drug-masking industry). ___ ___ failed a drug test (before the U.S. Trials/in 2000, right after the Sydney Games/yesterday, after winning the Gold). Clearly, it's (time to give up/time to start over/time to crack down) on athletes who (flout the rules/aren't smart enough to get around the rules).
This is a problem the (USATF, USOC, IOC) has failed to address for (4/8/12/16) years. If (Ben Johnson in 1988/Carl Lewis's drug test failures in 1988/the Festina cycling team/the East Germans/the Bulgarian weightlifters) didn't provide the needed wake-up call, what will?
The real problem isn't with the (sport/athletes/officials/Olympics). It's with our culture, which glorifies (winning at all costs/athletes as role models/sports/money).
"The whole sport is (under a cloud/called into question/a sham)," said ___ ___, a (retired schoolteacher/systems analyst/condom importer) who says (he/she) doesn't believe the results of any event until (after the medal ceremony/after the next scandal/after the athlete has confessed on his death bed). "I was suspicious of (Ben Johnson/C.J. Hunter/Marion Jones), but now that I've found out ___ ___ isn't clean, I don't think any of them are."
Many athletes are also angered that ___ ___ has made them all suspect. ("I'm totally clean"/"I've never tested positive") said ___ ___, who finished fourth in the (100 meter/200 meter/400 meter) (final/Olympic trials). "I've (worked hard/trained hard/used my God-given ability), and I'm tired of always getting my medal in (a private ceremony/the mail).
Some have argued that (better testing/more frequent monitoring/placing all Olympic wannabes under virtual house arrest) is the answer. But events of the last (week/summer/year/4 years/16 years/quarter century) have shown that athletes will always be (one step ahead of/in cahoots with) those who monitor the sport.There is still a chance for U.S. track to (get back on course/wave the flag proudly/return to its glory days). The first thing that needs to be done, immediately after these Games are over, is to (fire Craig Masback/fire George Williams/fire the current PR director). Leadership begins (at the top/near the top/with the right spin).
The rest is up to (the fans/the TV networks/the government). If all (we/shareholders/politicians) care about is (who wins/share prices/election results), then prospects for (the near future/the next generation/civilization as we know it) are mighty dim, indeed.
When I first began covering track and field, I was (paid to/honored to/forced to) spend lots of time with Olympic great (Jesse Owens/Billy Mills/Wyomia Tyus). (Owens/Mills/Tyus) was the true exemplar of what an athlete should be: talented, hard working, and (poor/modest/willing to talk to me). You might think that, after (40/50/60) years of sports writing, I'm seeing the world through (rose colored glasses/a half-empty bourbon bottle/the fog of senility). But you'd be wrong. With age comes (wisdom/an unstoppable torrent of clichés).
We'd do well to heed the words of the late, great (Edward R. Murrow/Joseph Welch) who felled the seemingly mighty Joe McCarthy with a single, well-timed line: ("The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves."/" "Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?".) That is the question we must all ask (ourselves/others).
Jeff Merron is a staff writer for ESPN.com.