Last updated on: 8/4/2015 | Author:

Phil Taylor, MA Biography

Senior Writer at Sports Illustrated
Not Clearly Pro or Con to the question "Should Performance-Enhancing Drugs Be Accepted in Sports?"

“It’s like remembering when you found out your girlfriend was cheating on you or your kid had been cutting class – in retrospect, you’re half mad at them for betraying your trust and half mad at yourself for missing the obvious warning signs.

That season, in which [Mark] McGwire finished with 70 home runs and [Sammy] Sosa with 66, was not the finest hour for any of us…not for the fans, who dug the long balls so much that they ignored the cartoonish muscles on the men who hit them. Ten years later we feel 10 times more foolish – even though neither slugger was tested for or admitted using performance-enhancing drugs – about the way we gushed over them…

They made a myth, and we believed it. SPORTS ILLUSTRATED named McGwire and Sosa Sportsmen of the Year and placed them on the cover in togas and laurel wreaths, as modern-day embodiments of classic Greek sportsmanship. Seven years later both men would sit before Congress facing interrogation about steroids, with McGwire dancing around the questions and Sosa essentially pretending not to understand them. (In his statement Sosa did deny using steroids.)

…The summer of 1998 was a milestone, all right, just not the sort we thought it was at the time. It marked not so much the end of our innocence about performance-enhancing drugs as the beginning of an all-encompassing suspicion. Ever since we opened our eyes about ’98, it’s been hard to look at any great athletic accomplishment without assuming the worst. A world record on the track, in the pool or on the bike, a sudden jump in a hitter’s power numbers or a pitcher’s strikeout totals automatically makes us want to see the urinalysis results. It’s a shame, but that’s how it is. We won’t be taken in again.”

“The Summer of Self-Deception,” Sports Illustrated, Aug. 4, 2008

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Senior Writer, Sports Illustrated, 1990-present
  • Former sports writer and columnist for Miami Herald, the San Jose Mercury News and the The National
  • Recipient, Associated Press Sports Editors Award for Feature Writing, 1987
  • MA, Stanford University, 1983
  • BA, Amherst College, 1982
  • Twitter handle: @si_philtaylor
Quoted in:
  1. Should the Teammates of Athletes Who Are Found Guilty of Using Performance-Enhancing Drugs in the Olympics Also Return Their Medals?