New York Times contributing writer Jonathan Mahler was featured on the front of the Sports section Saturday, opining on two drug-related prosecutions in the sports world, “Why Clemens and Armstrong Aren’t Worth Pursuing Anymore.“
Mahler, who writes for the paper’s Sunday magazine and the Book Review, managed to drag the Iraq War, the Bush administration, even the ancient Ken Starr investigation into his criticism of the prosecutions of sports titans Roger Clemens and Lance Armstrong.
Next week, Roger Clemens will go on trial in Washington, accused of lying to Congress about using performance-enhancing drugs. As the beefy right-hander settles in at the defendant’s table, his fellow Texan Lance Armstrong will no doubt be sitting somewhere uncomfortably watching the world’s greatest cyclists pedal through the countryside of Brittany while wondering if he, too, might soon face a criminal trial and possibly be stripped of his Tour de France trophies.
When the first Balco indictments were handed down in February 2004, they were trumpeted as a blow for democracy, the sports equivalent of the toppling of the statue of Saddam in Firdos Square, which had taken place less than a year earlier. “This is not just a call to action,” John Ashcroft, the United States attorney general at the time, declared in a nationally televised news conference. “It is a call to the values that make our nation and its people strong and free.”
But a lot has changed since then. Most notably, we’ve lived through two endless wars and our nation’s worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Now here we are, well into the second year of the Armstrong investigation, and we are still waiting for criminal charges to be brought against top executives at many of the firms that left our economy in tatters.
Mahler even cribbed old liberal talking points about Clinton’s perjury.
For his part, Novitzky is starting to look more and more like Ken Starr, circa 1998, myopically pursuing a case whose relevance diminishes with each new news cycle.