You may remember how John Steigerwald wrote a column for a Pittsburgh paper suggesting that Alex Ovechkin may be on performance-enhancing drugs. You also may remember how Steigerwald's evidence for this claim was entirely circumstantial and in fact contained an inaccurate piece of information linking Ovechkin to a doctor that treated Tiger Woods that got into trouble.
You also may remember Ryan Lambert of Puck Daddy responding to Steigerwald's piece with one of his own. Steigerwald apparently has a radio show, and he invited Lambert on to discuss the piece. As it turns out, most of the show was Steigerwald clumsily defending himself and Lambert letting him dig his own grave. The quotes below don't cover the full interview, which you can find on Puck Daddy, but they seem like the most important parts.
This is probably the money quote from Steigerwald:
"Nothing I said is based on fact. I don't have the facts to prove it."
Well, that and this:
"More often than not, they turn out to be true, so I'm going with the percentages."
That's pretty much the long and short of it. But in case you want more, here it is.
First, Steigerwald explained what he thinks is his right to publish an opinion.
"I am a columnist. I am a guy walking around on the street. I've been covering sports for 40 years. I've seen so many tearful, indignant responses to these, not necessarily accusations, but whispers about steroids that I don't believe any of them anymore," he said. "I think steroids, PEDs and HGH are rampant in sports, and so I take the position where when there's a little bit of smoke, there's fire. That's just me."
Then, he explained his guilty until proven innocent line:
"When I see little things that to you seem to think are rumors, minor things, innuendos, flimsy or whatever, I look at it and I say, 'Guilty until proven innocent,'" he said. "That doesn't mean that if I'm put on a jury, I won't demand to see something. I'm not sending the guy to jail based on it. But I'm going to write a column and say, 'You know what, I think it's true.' That's the way it is. You have every right to rip me, but you could have been a lot more fair about it."
Then, he tried to explain what he meant when he wrote that there are "whispers" out there.
"I don't know what a whisper is. I can't explain what a whisper is. But it's out there. It's like, who hasn't heard that Tom Cruise is gay? I don't know. It's out there. Nobody's proved it, but everybody has heard about it, and he's talked about it. Nobody has written a column and said, 'I think he's gay,' but it's out there. There are things that are out there, you know, when you're covering a sport and in the media," he said.
Finally, he threw one more heaping of circumstantial evidence onto his plate and suggested that Ovechkin is a steroid user because his mother is a former Olympic athlete.
"His mother played in the 70s, I think. Back in the 70s, Russian and East German athletes in those days, the female athletes wore jock straps and had mustaches. It was so widely known. They looked like men. It was a joke. The East Germans and the Russians. His mother comes from that culture. Those guys were so steroided up, it was a joke. He comes from a culture where there's a chance, and I can't convict her, but ...," he said.
He was cut off by a confused Lambert, then continued.
"You don't get it? You don't remember. You're 28 years old. It was a standard joke that these female athletes on those teams, they were making them take out their clothes to prove they were women. It was a joke. So he comes from that culture where his mother was in it. Steroids to him wouldn't be a foreign object. What's so outrageous about that? He's from Russia, isn't he?"
Yeah, I'm just going to let these quotes stand as is. I think they pretty much do all the talking.