I’m tempted to say that I’ve now heard everything. But the crazy nature of this business guarantees that I’ll soon hear something even crazier.
Peter King of SI.com reports that, when Texans owner Bob McNair meets with Commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday, McNair will explain that Cushing’s positive test for elevated hCG levels was the product of “overtrained athlete syndrome,” a condition from which Andre Smith will never suffer.
Cushing explained his better-never-than-late excuse to King on Friday. “Everything points to that overtrained athlete syndrome,” Cushing said, using the word “that” as if King or anyone else already knew what it is. “I’m pretty sure it is. I’m pretty positive. I didn’t take anything. It’s not a tainted supplement. So all roads lead to that.”
Supposedly, an athlete who trains for a long period of time and then stops acquires a testosterone imbalance, which potentially spikes his hCG level. That said, it’s never happened to any other player who has tested positive for hCG. More importantly, it feels like a round peg/square hole attempt to fashion an excuse for an elevated hCG level that was temporary.
That was the biggest flaw in Cushing’s ill-advised media blitz from May. If, as he claims he feared, he had a tumor, the hCG level would have continued to be elevated. And if there was some natural condition causing generally increased hCG levels, common sense tells us it wouldn’t have popped up quickly and then dissipated after the positive test.
Though the Commissioner may not buy any of it, Cushing’s boss does.
“He shows no sign of ever having been on steroids,” McNair said. “His
weight hasn’t changed appreciably since he’s been with us. I’ve looked
into it pretty thoroughly, and I haven’t found anything that would lead
me to believe that he has ever taken a performance-enhancing drug.”
Apart from the traditional circumstantial evidence of steroid use (some would say there is such evidence based on pictures of Cushing while in college), it’s possible that Cushing was taking steroids not to get bigger but to recover from the knee injury that threatened to derail the start of his rookie season. Last August, Cushing suffered the knee sprain. So if he decided to do a short cycle of steroids aimed at helping to heal the ligament, and if he then chased it with hCG to help kick-start his natural testosterone production, elevated hCG levels would thereafter be in his system.
Here’s the bottom line. Cheaters don’t admit to cheating when they get caught cheating. So Cushing’s effort to continue to attribute his behavior to something other than cheating is exactly what he would do if he were cheating. The fact that he and the Texans are offering a buffet line of excuses makes us even more skeptical of the situation, and we suspect that the league office will be just as skeptical, if not more.