The Defense for the Former Defensive Lineman: Lying and Big Penalties

Former professional football player, Dana Stubblefield and his attorney, Mike Armstrong have a rival off the playing field and instead in federal court.  Stubblefield is one of several athletes (former and present) that have fallen under a federal probe involving an investigation into a steroid distribution ring.  He is the first football player indicted on any charges.  His charge? Lying to an IRS agent about his steroid use.  His opponent? The United States of America.  Stubblefield had given testimony before a grand jury, referred to as the BALCO or Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative grand jury back in November 2003.

Though not stated overtly, the indictments sought at that time were most likely surrounding the sale and distribution of said steroids, the use of them and lies surrounding such, though have led a number of athletes down a long legal road.  Similarly Barry Bonds is awaiting the outcome of his trial where he has been charged with and pled not guilty to perjury and obstruction of justice. Stubblefield is looking at a plea agreement that would have him spend zero to six months in prison.

The former NFL defensive player of the year in 1997 was fined by the NFL (but not suspended) for testing positive, but in the legal jungle, he will find himself more than just fined and definitely not getting any awards for withholding his personal information.

Since the failed drug test back when Stubblefield was playing for the San Francisco 49ers, the NFL has added the type of steroid that he was using (THG) to its banned substance list.  But, at the time he was tested, it was not on the list, therefore had little sanctions and no effect on his career.

The legal sanctions, however, of him not supplying information about his own substance use will mar the successes he has had in his years as a great athlete.  It seems that the federal investigation would center around the suppliers and distributors of the drugs and not make a public spectacle of the athletes that due to age, injury, of increasing pressure to perform decide to harm their own bodies for short-term gain.

Not only will these athletes run the risk of serious health problems from performance-enhancing drugs, but now some, like Bonds and Stubblefield will be labeled and possibly ruined from the abuse of process by federal prosecutors in their overzealous attempt to draw attention to the steroid issue.  But, isn’t the use of performance enhancing chemicals a personal choice to some extent?  Viagra and Cialis are “performance enhancing”, so to speak, so what is the difference here?

This leaves lingering questions about the media frenzy that has been created by this investigation and its real world relevance to legal issues.  If THG was marketed by a pharmaceutical company for its effects on stamina or as part of an exercise regimen, there would be no case.  But in some quasi-twilight zone, the rules have been made.  But, who is making them?  The rule is that Viagra is ok, any drug that is approved by the FDA is ok, Zoloft and Paxil help people perform better without their depression.  Who is the authority on what is alright to use.  It seems here that the industry of sport is on trial.  I question this.

Do people think that all athletes must be born and not made?  Most people realize that training and extreme diligence is a part of athletic performance.  Athletes are born and made.  But, this doesn’t fit into the American ideal of the hero.  So it seems our culture is making the laws.  Is it right to ruin the legends of these former and current stars just to make headlines and bring about more questions about the “ethics” of sports.  It is of my opininion that it is not.

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