Say it isn’t so, “Evan Fields.” Tell us that you didn’t use steroids, or human growth hormone, or any other illegal, or ought-to-be-illegal substance, to bulk yourself up and give yourself an edge in the ring.
Tell us, “Evan”--or, as prosecutors in New York’s Albany County prefer to refer you--Evander Holyfield, please tell us that you have never, ever taken any drug to improve your physique and/or performance. Tell us, if you wouldn’t mind, while strapped to a polygraph machine. Because simple declarations of innocence, I’m afraid, aren’t enough when compelling evidence suggests that you are a drug cheat, not with all the dirty water that has flowed under the bridge. Now, to be fair, I must share that I’m of the firm mindset that people ought to be treated as though they are innocent until proven guilty. Furthermore, I have some degree of skepticism about a prosecutor that is overseeing a case in which so many allegations of impropriety by high-profile athletes are tossed to scandal-thirsty reporters before a trail is in session. What’s the motivation, I submit, besides garnering publicity, and boasting about the big fish that was caught in your net? However… If the allegations that SI.com reporters Luis Fernando Llosa and L. Jon Wertheim set forth last week, that Holyfield has purchased substances such as testosterone, a controlled substance in the US since 1990, and growth hormone, then I have a bigger issue with Holyfield than I with a prosecutor that may be hunting for his 15 minutes of face time.
The SI report, in case you missed it, said that in June 2004 a patient named Evan Fields picked up three vials of testosterone and related injection supplies from a Columbus, Ga. doctor. That doctor’s activities, the report says, came to light when a pharmacy in Mobile, Alabama, was raided in August 2006. Later in June 2004, the story says, “Fields” also obtained five vials of Saizen, a growth hormone sometimes used by bodybuilders to bulk up. Then, three months later, the SI report says, “Fields” returned to the physician for treatment of hypogonadism, a state in which the body is not producing enough testosterone on its own.
Investigators have in their possession a patient file for “Evan Fields” which was obtained from the Georgia doctor, and they noted that “Fields” shares both the birth date and home address of Holyfield. There was a Post-It note attached to the Fields patient file, and SI called the number: lo and behold, the writers say, Holyfield answered the phone. Ouch. That’s pretty damning stuff, as far as allegations go.
Now, should I, or anyone reading this be surprised? Yes, I am surprised. Now, I’m also feeling a bit foolish, after the column I wrote last week declaring that Holyfield should at least be given a chance to succeeded, or fail, in his quest to regain a heavyweight title for the fifth time. Maybe I was naïve; after all, on his radio show last week, Max Kellerman said, "Seven out of the 10 top heavyweights are on the juice. Most of the top guys are (juicing)." I guess I hadn’t gotten that memo. Must’ve got stuck in my spam filter… I mean, I’d heard whispers, allegations, and of course, the eyes rarely lie. Some of the wondrous physiques on these guys over the years, well, one had to at least ponder the possibility that eating right, vitamins and a rigorous gym regimen were solely responsible for the majestic rippage of abs and grapefruit-sized biceps we see. One fight game insider told me that a bunch of heavyweights have been using a synthetic growth hormone, virtually undetectable to anti-doping testing measures, for some time. But Holyfield? The Christian Warrior? Sure, there was ample evidence that the man talked the talk better than he walked it. The children out of wedlock weren’t conduct becoming a preacher who espouses Christian values. “I do not use steroids,” The Real(?)Deal stated in response to the accusation. “I have never used steroids. I’m disappointed that certain members of the media fell for this ploy and chose to use my name in headlines and publish my photo alongside stories in today’s newspaper about an investigation into a practice that has nothing to do with me or what I stand for.” I’m still leaning towards believing Holyfield—-I’m just not ready to accept that he’s capable of living such a glaring double life. But I’m hoping that he quickly comes forth with plausible explanations to counteract the authorities’ charges.
Every day, it seems, heroes are becoming in shorter and shorter supply. Me, I’m too much of a skeptic to idolize marquee names like Holyfield, or Hollywood bigshots. People who serve others, and renounce glory and excessive compensation, deserve to be glorified and deified. Athletes, we should all realize by now, should not be at the front of the pack when we search for role models on matters like selflessness, and moral clarity, and simple decency. Truly, I’m kind of hoping that the authorities have made a mistake, and this is a misunderstanding, because I’m just not ready to believe that Holyfield may be a lowly drug cheat. Stubborn, and focused more on serving himself and his financial worth than a true Christian stalwart should be, maybe. But a drug cheat? I hope not. There are still a few kids out there, and a few folks in his flock, whose worldview could be irreparably harmed if this allegation is proved true.