Gérard Vroomen wrote an interesting post in his blog this weekend (Doped soccer star retires). His headline refers to the retirement of Jaap Stam, one of the Netherlands best footballers. While the press wrote about his retirement there wasn't a single article that mentioned Stam's positive dope test (for nandralone). Meanwhile, many of the articles on Danish cycling star Michael Boogerd's retirement did include a doping angle even though Boogerd never had a positive drug test.
The press in North America is even worse. Almost every cycling story published in the mainstream press here had a doping angle. Why didn't the press take the same tack with the NFL and MLB where doping is at least as rampant as it was in cycling several years ago?
Vroomen puts forward an interesting proposition which I think has merit. Journalists silence in these sports is due to their dependency on access to athletes for their stories. Write a negative story and you could find yourself out in the cold. Maybe that's why, even though there was ample evidence of widespread doping in baseball and football many journalists skirted the issue. Publishers, who rely on advertising revenue related to North American professional sports, also have an incentive to keep a lid on doping stories.
But while they don't seem capable of exercising any journalistic integrity when it comes to North American pro sports, they can at the very least stop the excessive criticism of cycling. After all it is the only professional sport to have a serious doping program in place. Cycling is still in the process of cleaning house but it's now far cleaner than baseball and football where doping is at least as bad as it was in the bad old days. Instead they should be now pointing to cycling as a model for other sports to emulate -- as should WADA.
At least WADA is now being as openly critical of MLB, which is at least a step in the right direction (Doping Officials Question Baseball's Policy on Drugs). Why Canadian newspapers didn't pick up this story is beyond me -- again showing that they don't really want to rock the boat when it comes to doping in North American professional sports.