COLUMNS

Liar liar

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
Weekly Citizen Sports Editor Kyle Riviere.

There is only one thing worse than a cheater, and that's a liar. And when you put the two together, you get a combination that makes you so loathed and so repulsive to onlookers that it's almost like you're radioactive.

Milwaukee Brewers slugger and 2011 NL MVP Ryan Braun now knows exactly how that feels.

MLB threw the book at him last week and suspended him for the remainder of the season. That includes all 65 regular season games and any postseason games the Brewers might make it to.

The punishment is penance for Braun's involvement with the Miami-based company Biogenesis--a place known for distributing steroids to players.

The company's founder Tony Bosch worked with MLB and gave them a list of his clients to avoid heat from federal investigators. One of the names on that list was Braun.

However, the reason the suspension was so severe was not only because of the steroid use; it's all the lying Braun has done about said use.

Back in 2011, Braun was slapped with a 50-game suspension after he tested positive for heightened levels of testosterone. He quickly appealed the suspension and won.

Due to MLB fouling up in the chain of custody when it came to his urine sample, he was given a reprieve.

The win was in no way a declaration of innocence for Braun, but that's exactly how he played it.

He had a press conference and defiantly proclaimed his innocence, took shots at MLB for their mistake and claimed that someone in the league office was out to get him.

But after last week, we know that that was all just a big act. Maybe now that he has some time on his hands, he'll explore avenues in motion pictures or maybe even a venture into Broadway.

No one in the league office was out to get him and even though the chain of custody broke down, the results of the test were everything he wasn't: truthful. Those words of defiance and screams of innocence were all just acts of grand-standing he used strictly to save his hide.

But now the truth is finally out there, and no time soon will it be setting him free. If he wanted that to happen, he should have used that press conference back in 2011 to admit to his wrong-doing and apologize to the fans.

After his suspension came down last week, he did everything but admit to the steroid use. He chose not to appeal the suspension, and he said, "I am not perfect. I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions."

So, even now, he admits to "mistakes," but he refuses to come out and say point-blank that he used performance enhancing drugs. Either way, it's too late for him when it comes to the court of public opinion.

It's one thing to cheat but when you lie over and over again about it, that's when the fans really turn on you. Just look at Lance Armstrong.

He was an American sports icon, and the love and passion of his fans only grew after a decade of steadfast and unwavering denials of steroid use.

But when he finally cut through his thousands of lies to tell that one painful truth earlier this year, he instantly became one of the most disgraced athletes of all time. He went from inspiration to media pariah.

That very well may be Braun's fate. In no way is he as polarizing as Lance Armstrong, but he chose to go the politician's route and deny, deny, deny. Our society has shown it can be very forgiving. If you come clean, apologize and display a little contrition, in no time, all is forgotten and you have a chance to be back on top.

But when that doesn't happen, that society can be brutal. You know what they say, the coverup is always worse than the actual crime.

Two more prime examples come from baseball: Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro.

McGwire broke Roger Maris' record of most home runs in a season when he blasted 70 in the summer of '98. That year and every year after that, he unequivocally denied that he ever took steroids.

However, when placed before a congressional committee back in 2005, he pled the fifth when asked about it. And finally, in 2010, he admitted to being on the juice when he broke the record.

Since then, saying his name in baseball is almost like uttering a dirty word. The same goes for Palmeiro.

At that same 2005 congressional hearing, he pointed his finger in defiance and said he had never used steroids. Less than a month later, he tested positive for performance enhances.

Now, he has gone from being a Hall of Fame shoe-in to being the face of MLB's woes during the steroids era. No matter what he does, he'll always be remembered for the bold-faced lies he told Congress while wagging that finger.

Braun can only hope things turn out differently for him. He can only hope his legacy doesn't turn out to be the image of him lying to the fans at that press conference back in 2011.

The one positive for Braun, he's still young. He still has a lot of years ahead of him. Maybe he won't have to go too many of those years before the fans forgive him.