It's May 22nd today, and perhaps there's no better time of the NFL year to find yourself in a little bit of hot water. After all, it's either bad news or no news at this time of the spring.
The Redskins are taking a little bit of heat right now, and the criticism is related to one of it's players, WR Santana Moss, being linked to Canadian-based Dr. Anthony Galea, and practices that allegedly, cross hard and fast laws in the United States. Things got even more weird for Skins fans when allegations arose that Galea's assistant, arrested at customs with Hgh and multiple syrnges and other medical tools which was not properly licesnced or documented, was, um...on her way to treat Santana Moss. Allegedly.
Now reports say, rather unsurprisingly when you think about it, that Moss might not have been the only Redskin scheduled for such a visit on the trip. If, in fact, more Redskins are implicated in this mess, it would be the least surprising element of everything.
The question on many minds is: why? There's no real gray area here. Galea is not a team doctor for the Redskins. Hgh, while incredibly difficult to test for, has never at any point been legal for use in the NFL. Players are responsible for what they put into their own bodies, they know they are responsible for what they put into their own bodies, and so when something like this happens, fans want to know why such clear rules can be broken so obviously.
Part of it, obviously, is that because it's difficult to test for Hgh, it's being used pretty commonly in injury treatment for athletes. While illegal, Hgh is hardly a performance enhancer. Cortizone, an anabolic steroid (but perfectly legal for team usage), is obviously a performance enhancer. Aspirins and other painkillers, taken orally, unnaturally improve an athlete's ability to play with pain. No one really worries about those over-the-counter meds, as while it's very easy to accidentally injest something over the counter that triggers a positive test, it's not cheating to drop Tylenol before a performance.
Hgh isn't the same. It's not over the counter. Its illegal. But it's still a part of what athletes can use to promote, well, being an athlete. Athletes are different from us normal folk because the workout process is only the beginning of a training regiment, there's also an active recovery process that weekend athletes have no use for. There are of course, supplements, that can assist with the healing process and will not get an athlete in trouble. Doctors, as we see here with Galea, are still using Hgh as a treatment for the recovery phase of a training cycle.
We're still without any concrete facts in this specific case, but the silence from the Moss camp is deafening.
What Moss may very well be in trouble for has nothing to do with enhancing performance relative to the rest of his competition, for one thing we have no idea how many other NFL receivers use Hgh as part of their training cycle. Any advantage actually obtained by Moss as a result of illegal substance abuse probably will not be reflected in his production over the last few years, unless you consider that he might have been even lazier out there if he was hurting just a little bit more than he actually was from the grind of being a professional athlete. In short, it would be wrong to say that Moss cheated. He didn't. It looks like he took something that was illegal and that he knew was illegal. If he hadn't taken Hgh, he would have just taken something else to the same effect of healing from the breakdown of his body. In some capacity, every player in the NFL is doing it. Moss, it appears, abused substances.
Is it stupid of him? You could say so, but consider how ridiculous this link to Moss actually was. A licensed assistant, who was going to visit Moss, got caught, and arrested carrying illegal drugs into the United States. Charges were then filed against the practicing doctor by the US Government. Moss should have been in the clear, as he didn't test positive for anything, except for the fact that his name came out after questioning. Basically, you can tell Moss he's responsible for what is going in his body, and that he should bear the consequences if caught (and he should), but once he is starting to be held responsible for the legal medical practices of someone else in order to avoid being suspended...well, you see the problem here with the whole responsibility angle.
Based on that, I hope Moss isn't suspended since he didn't test positive. The Redskins, as an organization, will probably be slapped on the wrist for this, which strikes me as fair. Perhaps the team suspends Moss to set a standard, which is also fair. And, if ultimately, the NFL decides Moss has been in violation of the substance abuse policy, I will live with the NFL's decision. My point is that since Moss was hardly caught doing anyone or himself wrong, maybe we should treat him like a guy who has his name caught up as a third party in a nasty criminal investigation, and not as the 5' 9" wide receiver who cheated himself, his team, and his family by accepting treatment from a foreign doctor who's medical practices have him and the Redskins in hot water.