Picking Splinters: Steroids, Speedos & More in Mailbag


So what’s your take on this swimsuit controversy? All of these slick, high-buoyancy suits are killing the records of the past. Do you see a solution?

Mark S.

There’s a pretty interesting parallel going on here. High profile athletes embrace science en masse and suddenly long-standing records fall at an alarming rate. Sounds like baseball’s performance enhancing drug problem, no?

There are a few differences though. First, swimsuits don’t cause depression or do catastrophic bodily harm. Actually, some women’s magazines may disagree with that first part and those suits look pretty tight so maybe I’m wrong. Second, and this is the important part, steroid-makers don’t sponsor baseball. Speedo, the maker of these new, record-shattering suits, may be the foremost swimming sponsor there is.

Baseball can crack down on PEDs no problem, but FINA, the international governing body for swimming, stands to lose a lot of cash if it tells Speedo that all these suits they’re cranking out now can’t be used. FINA seems to be stuck between a rock and a hard place, or – to use a swimming metaphor – between the wall and an East German swimmer circa 1984. The solution is simple though, in theory: Standardize the suits. Every man wears the Mark Spitz-era Speedo and women wear the Janet Evans suit and boom, everyone is on a level playing field as far as equipment goes.

While the records of the past aren’t coming back, at least going forward they will have value because better athletes, not better technology, will break them.

But what are those records worth? My guess is it’s not as much as Speedo is dishing out in sponsorship dollars. That’s why I don’t see the new suits going anywhere.


Newly drafted Brian Orakpo looks like a beast in Redskins camp, according to the coaches. He’s been blowing past his blocker, and if he does that during the season, whooooeeee, look out. I think you’ll be proven wrong about the ‘Skins and they’ll be good this year. What do you have to say about that?

Joe G.

If you want a good indication of why I remain completely dubious about the Redskins, read the Aug. 5 story by Rick Maese in the Washington Post. Part of the reason Orakpo looks beastly is he’s beating Chris Samuels, who I’m sure is a wonderful man, but started losing a step roughly around the end of the Eisenhower administration. The guy has battled for a long time in what many believe to be the NFL’s toughest division year after year. He’s got a lot of miles on him and Washington has yet to step up and find a suitable replacement. For that matter, Washington hasn’t added depth hardly anywhere along the line and now the early litany of injuries to the linemen is already piling up.

I know I’m beating a dead horse here, but if you can’t buy Jason Campbell any time with the ball, you’re never going to see a pass longer than five yards and the offense will be just as weak as last year.


Hank Aaron said that baseball should release all of the names on the 2003 list of those who tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. Do you agree with that? What should we … er … they do?

Bud S.

I’ve always said that baseball should rip the Band-Aid off and get this thing over with. It would have been a big story to have all these names out there at once, but at least it would have been over and done. Now we’re just getting a trickle of names every four months or so. Considering there are 104 names on that list, at this rate we’re going to be hearing about steroid users when our grandkids are sitting around eating ice cream on Mars.

The problem is revealing those names would be a breach of the agreement with the players union, so the union would have to sign off on any such exposure. Good luck getting that authorization.