A Diana Taurasi Retrospective
Where do we go from here?
By Ben York / @bjyork
Over the past few weeks, it’s certainly no secret that I’ve spoken out in defense of Diana Taurasi in wake of her doping allegations. In fact, I’m probably the most outspoken member of the media to do so (as you can imagine, it’s quite a prestigious honor). I’ve been called a hypocrite, biased, racist, ignorant bastard, blind, just plain stupid, and many other things that aren’t fit to print (even for SLAM’s lenient standards).
I was fully aware of the potential for a backlash and make no apologies.
The answer is no.
I’m not here to be vanilla-y or wishy-washy. I don’t write things to appease the masses (if I were, I wouldn’t be writing about the WNBA). I wear my heart on my sleeve; if I feel something is unjust I’ll let you know just like if I hear an emotional or uplifting story I’ll probably tell it in an overly sentimental way.
Think about it: How hypocritical would I be to reverse my stance and bash Taurasi now? Kick her while she’s down? That’s not who I am and it’s not what Diana Taurasi deserves.
While her samples have reportedly tested positive, it has become increasingly difficult for me to trust anything I hear or read out of Turkey. Literally, anything. I’ve read numerous “reports” with false quotes from teammate Penny Taylor and supposed team officials regarding the situation. Both of Taurasi’s samples were leaked and broke mandatory protocol by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). When the allegations broke, I brought to light the fact the lab that tested Taurasi in Turkey had been previously suspended by WADA for numerous violations. Testing has become a complete joke throughout the entire country to the point where multiple teammates requested their samples be evaluated in Germany.
How can anyone feel confident that the tests were valid and authentic? Or, are you just choosing to ignore these inconsistencies? Who’s hypocritical now? You’re letting a questionable lab, in a foreign country, dictate your thoughts on Taurasi?
Here’s the other thing: Taurasi has never been one to shy away from accepting responsibility. When she was charged with a DUI in the spring of 2009, she immediately acknowledged she made a mistake and vowed to make it right. No excuses. I respect the hell out of that and it takes an immense amount of courage to do so. Even Geno Auriemma, one of her closest confidants, stated she told him she didn’t take it. According to Auriemma, if she said she didn’t…she didn’t.
I’m with Geno.
Look, people will believe what they want to believe. That’s a fact of life. Even if she is cleared of all charges it won’t change many people’s opinions of her. But to see the bashing, ridiculing, and mocking of Taurasi is ridiculous. Still, that’s what happens when you’re the best in your game; people try to bring you down. It’s happened to Jordan, to Kobe, to Lebron, and now to Taurasi.
Of course I’m biased; that’s the point. I can only go by my personal experiences and it’s the reason why I’m so strongly in her corner. I can only hope if I ever go through a difficult and unfavorable situation like Taurasi has that someone will have my back too.
So, go ahead and call me a “Taurasi apologist.” That’s fine. I can deal with that. Heck, I’ve been called worse. But I won’t sit idly by and see someone thrown to the wolves like Taurasi has.