Diana Taurasi took questions from a friendly media crowd on a conference call today. She answered questions about what happened with her doping dismissal from her Turkish club team, what impact that's had on her, and where she goes from here.
"I definitely have the greatest sigh of relief. Yesterday and today, I finally feel like I can start putting it behind me. I do feel vindicated. I feel like the facts came out with all the information on the table," Taurasi said.
The Phoenix Mercury star made it clear that she expects some sort of justice for the lab in Turkey that was responsible for not only her false positive test but also for what happened to three other athletes that were also cleared in the process.
"I feel like someone has to take the responsibility for this. It can't just happen and just get washed away and you say sorry and everything goes away. This can affect a lot of athletes throughout the world and it's not fair."
Diana wouldn't go into the details of her case that eventually cleared her name beyond saying it was a mistake in chemistry by the lab. She discounted notions that there was any kind of conspiracy against her, citing the mistaken tests of two other soccer players along with herself and another female basketball player.
Moving forward, Taurasi said she will have to "take a better and closer look at where I pursue my basketball career." Her faith in the system has been shaken as a result of this ordeal and while she's not ruled out legal action she clearly isn't ready to let the matter die.
On the call, Diana expressed thanks to her fans, family and friends who stood beside her but also made it clear she was hurt by those who didn't believe in her.
"There were two sides. There were people judging me at the drop of a dime but then there was the other side where the fans were great, my family, my friends, people who've known me for a long time and their unwavering support. It was two fold."
Moving forward, Taurasi plans to use the next three months to prepare for the WNBA season and take advantage of the down time to work on her game. It's a luxury she's not had in seven years as a professional basketball player going from the WNBA season, to playing overseas, to playing for USA Basketball.
"I'm going to use this as something I've never had before and that's to get myself in the best physical shape that I can be in and work on some things on the court...I'm looking forward to it."
On a personal note, I was skeptical of Taurasi's innocence from the beginning and don't apologize for it. That has nothing to do with my appreciation for Diana's game or the way she lives her life, but the bottom line with athletes is that we really don't know them or understand what they are capable of doing.
My doubt in Taurasi was always more about having faith in a testing system that's been proven right time and time again then it was about any distrust in her character. There are very few people in this world we truly know and I certainly wasn't going to pass such judgement on Diana based on how well I thought I knew her. To assume any sort of intimacy with her deepest values and beliefs isn't warranted outside her closest circle.
Barring a false insight into her soul, I simply went by all the doping history in sports. This incident, the first case I can recall of a doping result being overturned so quickly and so firmly, changes how we respond to future incidents. There is now a precedence for what had in the past always turned out to be hallow excuses.
I am glad Diana been cleared so quickly and completely. I am glad I get to watch her play without any doubt of cheating and I am glad that I can tell my daughters about this great athlete. To those who had faith in her, I am glad your trust has been vindicated.