By Tony Massarotti
Dan Olsen is a relative nobody, which makes him the proverbial bug on Tiger Woods’ windshield. And so when Olsen alleged last week that Woods was actually on “a month suspension” for alleged use of performance enhancing drugs, well, the vaunted PR machine went into overdrive.
Woods’ agent and the PGA are vehemently denying the allegations and Olsen has effectively recanted.
But for those of you who believe in conspiracy theories, we have a question:
Why, exactly, are Olsen’s claims so outrageous?
Tell you what: if you have a moment, Google Tiger Woods and Anthony Galea, and let me know what you find. The answer? An awful lot of smoke. In 2008 and 2009, after winning the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines on a bad knee – his last major championship victory as it turns out – Woods met with Galea, the now infamous Canadian doctor who was popped for bringing human growth hormone into the United States. Woods and Galea have said that Galea’s treatment of Woods involved only platelet-rich plasma therapy, essentially a blood-spinning technique that is believed to aid in healing and recovery.
Know who else was on Galea’s client list? Alex Rodriguez. Enough said.
So here we are now, in March 2015, and a funny thing is happening to Tiger Woods and his career: he’s breaking down, physically and mentally. Anyone who saw the video of Tiger’s chip yips earlier this season knows he looks like a plumber around the green these days. Meanwhile, Tiger’s back is awfully balky, which is hardly unusual for a golfer with his kind of torque, but can’t help but make you wonder – at least if you have half a brain.
Do we have concrete evidence against Tiger? No. But we have lots of circumstantial evidence, and we have it during that age in sports during which We Know Too Much. Athletes cheat, particularly the great ones. (Or so it seems.) From Bonds and Mark McGwire to Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa and Manny Ramirez, baseball’s list of all-time home run leaders looks like Muscle Beach. The NFL wouldn’t exist without steroids. Lance Armstrong was a fraud. On and on it goes.
And so now someone comes out and suggests that steroids have infected not only golf but the greatest golfer of his generation – and the suggestion is met with gall? Please. Admittedly, it’s a dangerous media world we live in where anyone can say anything – particularly about a public figure – and not be held accountable. Nobody likes that part of it. But with photos of a jacked-up Tiger splattered all over the internet, well it’s hard not to wonder.
And as we all know, cheating is not beyond Tiger’s capability.
Here’s the other thing: given how the PGA has typically handled disciplinary matters, does anyone in their right mind think the PGA would publicly smear one of its most historic figures? Woods is a Jordan-esque figure, an analogy we have all heard before. And lest anyone forget, Jordan’s “sabbatical” from basketball during the 1993-94 season is still regarded by many as a hush-hush suspension for gambling transgressions.
Think about it: a public suspension for gambling would have forever smeared Jordan’s reputation. Wouldn’t the same be true of Tiger Woods and steroids?
For an organization like the NBA or the PGA, the myth is too valuable to destroy.
Again, let’s make something clear here: maybe Olsen went too far. Certainly, in backtracking, Olsen made it clear that his comments about Woods were his “opinion.” But in some corners, the response to Olsen’s initial comments have been so strong that they border on psychotic. When you’re Olsen or anyone else, you’re allowed to wonder and ask whether Tiger Woods is a product of performance-enhancing drugs, especially when his career and health have taken the kind of dramatic turn that his has.
Tiger hasn’t won a major in going on seven years, people. Seven. That period generally coincides with his knee – and image – going poof. Meanwhile, performance-enhancing scandals have left a long list of accomplished athletes in their wake.
Are you kidding?
At this stage, we’d be stupid if we didn’t wonder about Tiger Woods.
Tony Massarotti covered sports in Boston for more than 15 years for both the Boston Herald and Boston Globe, and now serves as a co-host on afternoon drive on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston. He was a two-time Massachusetts Sportswriter of the Year as voted by his peers and has written four books, including “Big Papi,” the New York Times-bestselling memoirs of David Ortiz. You can follow Tony @tonymassarotti.