On Monday, it was revealed that US women’s soccer Olympic national team goalkeeper Hope Solo tested positive for a banned substance on June 15.
The substance found in Solo’s system, according to this ESPN report, was Canrenone, a diuretic banned by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.
Since Canrenone was a “specified substance” and its presence can lead to a reduced sanction, according to the report, Solo was simply given a warning and will be allowed to compete in the London Olympics this summer.
This could have been a scandal that rocked the Olympic games.
Solo is one of the faces of the U.S. national team, and if it had come out that she had been taking a banned substance and could not compete in the games, the story would have blown up and lingered over London like a Death Eater. Yep, that was a Harry Potter reference.
The story will blow over because Solo only got a proverbial “slap on the wrist,” but it’s really going to be a non-story because of Solo’s reaction to the news. And in a change from many professional athletes, she handled it exactly how she should have.
In my opinion, the main thing that the sporting universe has learned from the Steroid Era is that honesty truly is the best policy. That notion holds true whether or not you are guilty as sin, innocent, or somewhere of a grey area in between.
Take Andy Pettitte for example.
After Pettitte’s name was referenced in the Mitchell Report in 2007, the left-hander came clean. He admitted to using HGH in 2002, three years before it was banned by Major League Baseball, to help recover from an elbow injury. He admitted what he had done, took the blame, gave a rational explanation, and moved on.
And guess what? He has not been vilified by the public, unlike teammate Alex Rodriguez, who was defiant about his steroid use before finally coming clean.
There’s also the way things went down with Ryan Braun.
The 2011 National League MVP was accused of using performance enhancing drugs this past fall, and immediately challenged the findings.
His first public comment was simply that the test showing Braun had elevated levels of testosterone in his body was “B.S.” before speaking a bit more eloquently on the matter. He said he was going to tackle the challenges head on, offering additional DNA samples and saying simply that his “day will come.”
Yes, I’m a Brewers fan. Yes, I know you’re going to say he got off on a technicality. But that’s not what I’m arguing. I’m saying he handled the situation the right way, and his day came this past February, when Braun became the first MLB player to have a PED suspension overturned.
What I take away from the situation is this: If you’re honest, it will pay off.
If you really are innocent, you better be firing back right away, with explanations of why the tests showed what they did, or threats of lawsuits to prove your innocent. If you’re truly innocent, why wouldn’t you?
Those who remain stoic and defiant remain guilty in the public’s eye. Guys like Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. Guys who probably won’t get into the Hall of Fame any time soon. Pettitte and Braun on the other hand? Their careers will be remembered by much more.
Even though the accusations against Hope Solo were relatively minor, she did exactly what she should have done. She cooperated with the investigation, offered up legitimate reasons why the substance was in her system, and called it an “honest mistake.”
If you come across as honest and sincere, it will be very obvious to the public, and there’s a good chance everything will just go away.