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Harris: NFL media fail their drug test

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

My apologies to Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

They deserve better.

Their records should be safe, their good names intact.

They said they didn't cheat while playing baseball, so I guess they didn't cheat.

What if they did?

What does it matter after a nationwide panel of sports writers and broadcasters who cover the NFL made a mockery of our supposed angst over the misuse of performance-enhancing drugs in sports?

Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing tested positive in September for human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), a banned hormone used by some athletes as a masking agent after steroid use.

Cushing was suspended for the first four games of the 2010 season. The only reason he wasn't suspended last season is because the appeals process lasted until February.

In an unprecedented move, the Associated Press this week ordered a revote for its Defensive Rookie of the Year award won by Cushing -- for obvious reasons.

But apparently not obvious enough. Armed with evidence that Cushing cheated, many of the 50 voters rewarded him for breaking the rules.

Cushing didn't get the 39 votes he received the first time. Three voters abstained, and 19 switched from Cushing to another player.

Incredibly, 18 people voted for Cushing, including one who didn't vote for him the first time. What planet were they on?

Probably in the same solar system where Cushing resides.

During a news conference Thursday, Cushing, who has been the subject of steroid accusations since high school, said he didn't know how enough hCG made its way into his body for him to test positive.

"The question of how it got into my body is still unclear. I'm personally concerned ... just the fact of how it's there and what's going to deter it from happening again," Cushing said.

Yes, he actually said that.

And this: "It's unfortunate how certain people perceive things. It's unfortunate that with 23 years of hard work, it's something that people just want to take away like this."

He would have been more believable if he said aliens inhabited his body.

Cushing needs to grow up. At 23, he still has time to mature.

What's the media's excuse?

What happened to words like "honor" and "integrity" in sports• Does the word "hypocrite" ring a bell?

If Bonds had people in his corner like those 18 journalists who voted for Cushing the second time despite knowing better, he'd be a lock for Cooperstown.

Steroids• What steroids• Forget how Bonds transformed his body through years of performance-enhancing drug use -- just focus on him being the home run king.

That's the logic used by those who voted for Cushing.

You can't be a little bit pregnant, no more than you can be a little bit guilty of using illegal drugs.

You break the rules, you pay the price.

It's the American way.

You're not supposed to be rewarded for cheating, for goodness sake.

What message does that send to impressionable young athletes who idolize the likes of Cushing• Certainly not a good one.

At best, Cushing is a cheater who's running from the truth. So be it.

He doesn't need enablers in the media endorsing his illegal behavior.

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