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Under Pressure

Mark My Words

You are in our laboratory, Ben Johnson.

We have put your urine under our microscope and found it contained traces of steroids.

We stripped you of your gold medal in the 100-meter dash. Now we are stripping away your soul.

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We have a stop watch. We are counting the seconds until your soul is gone.

We are the press, unwilling to let you slip away with your suffering and shame. Your suffering and shame are not enough.

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We follow you into airports and onto airplanes. We are photographers, bending over your mother to snap a picture of you as you sit sullenly by the window of the airplane. Your eyes, Ben, are big and brown and sad. Click. Scream, Ben, it will make for a better picture. Click. Or cry, Ben. Crying will make for the best picture of all.

We are reporters, bearing notebooks and tape recorders. We want to hear what you have to say, Ben, want to hear why you took steroids when you knew the risk. Did you think, arrogant man, you wouldn't get caught?

And didn't you know we were here to make sure that if you did get caught we would never let you, or the world, forget it? Didn't you think about us, Ben?

We are hounding you, a marching band booming above the sad music in your conscience. We are unwilling to let you slip off with your suffering and shame into silence.

We are your government, Ben. We are efficient. We wasted no time declaring you banned from the Canadian national team. Your airplane touched down in Toronto two days ago, and we told you that you are no longer wanted.

No bureaucratic delay here. Welcome home.

We are your sponsors, Ben. The people who stood beside you when you signed our contracts. Smiled, laughed, joked with you when you signed our contracts. We'll have a great relationship, Ben, we said.

We are Diadora, an Italian sportswear company. We cancelled your $2.5 million, five-year contract and are suing you for $6 million dollars.

You broke your contract, Ben, so we will break your back.

We are a Finnish dairy company. Kiss your $250,000 endorsement contract from us goodbye. We are Kyodo Oil Co. of Japan. Forget about our advertising contract. We don't want you touting our products. Besides, Ben, what do you know about oil?

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