Word today that the 'B' sample confirmed the initial finding that Diana Taurasi tested positive for a banned stimulant wasn't surprising. That's how these things usually work. More startling was the portion of the report that carried her denial of using the drug modafinil through the mouth of her former UConn coach, Geno Auriemma. While understandable given everything at stake, complete denial at this stage potentially digs her hole even deeper.
Taurasi stands to lose a lot of money over this incident. Her voided contract for this season could be worth in excess of $500,000 and she puts at risk numerous sponsorship and endorsement relationships. That's a powerful motive to deny wrong-doing, not to mention the natural human reaction to lie in order to save face.
It should go without saying that it is also fully possible that Taurasi is completely innocent. But proving that conclusively and removing this stain from her name is going to be very difficult.
When is the last time you can recall an athlete failing a doping test like this and then being cleared completely? I can't recall one instance. On the other hand, there are countless cases of denials being proven false after an extended legal process that, years later, ends in a sorrowful admission of guilt.
It is impossible to know the details of Taurasi's case and only she and her high-powered attorney can decide what's best for her. However, given that the substance at question has multiple legitimate uses, one would think a better course for her would be to quickly admit to the mistake and move on. If that's the truth.
The truth is a novel concept in these situations, but people are mighty forgiving when they are treated with respect.
If the truth is that she used the drug for whatever purpose, continued and extended denials won't serve her cause at all. In the long run, Diana risks doing far more damage to herself if, years from now, she admits a mistake or if the legal process is dragged out and eventually confirms her guilt.
The pickle for her is that if the truth is really her innocence, then she's going to have only her word to rely on. Unfortunately for her, the word of famous athletes has been long since tarnished.
But if that's her path, she needs to quickly make herself available to the media and be as public and vocal as possible. Denials through proxies and continued seclusion is the worst of all worlds.