FanPost

Pujols Denial Denied

HUH? - Otto Greule Jr

There’s been a lot of heat generated by Jack Clark’s allegation that Albert Pujols used PEDs, Pujols’ denial and threat of legal action, and Clark’s subsequent firing from his WBNU radio show. As a die-hard Angels fan, and law student, I’d like to analyze Pujols’ denial of PED use.

Albert Pujols has issued what appears to be a stern denial that he ever used PEDs. However, a careful reading of his statement reveals an ingeniously worded masterpiece of legalese. From a legal perspective, the statement certainly does not contain a denial, and really doesn’t say much of anything concrete at all. Here is Pujols’ entire statement:

I've said time and time again that I would never take, or even consider taking, anything illegal. I've been tested hundreds of times throughout my career and never once have I tested positive. It is irresponsible and reckless for Jack Clark to have falsely accused me of using PED's. My faith in Jesus Christ, and my respect for this game are too important to me. I would never be able to look my wife or kids in the eye if I had done what this man is accusing me of.

I know people are tired of athletes saying they are innocent, asking for the public to believe in them, only to have their sins exposed later down the road. But I am not one of those athletes, and I will not stand to have my name and my family's name, dragged through the mud.

I am currently in the process of taking legal action against Jack Clark and his employers at WGNU 920AM. I am going to send a message that you cannot act in a reckless manner, like they have, and get away with it. If I have to be the athlete to carry the torch and pave the way for other innocent players to see that you can do something about it, I am proud to be that person. I have five young children and I take being a role model very seriously. The last thing I want is for the fans, and especially the kids out there, to question my reputation and character.

Let’s examine the meaning a part at a time.

I've said time and time again that I would never take, or even consider taking, anything illegal.

This sentence fails to be a denial for three reasons. First, it does not refer to PEDs, it refers to "anything illegal". PEDs are not illegal, they are against the rules of Major League Baseball.

Second, Pujols uses the word "would". He does not say, "I did not take . . .". He says "I would never take . . .". The word "would" refers to the future, not the past. It’s like saying "I will never . . ." or "I’m not going to . . ."

Third, the sentence begins with "I’ve said time and time again that . . .". In other words, this is a statement about what he has said before, not what he is saying now.

The most you could say about the first sentence in Albert Pujols denial is that he is promising not to take anything illegal from now on. It says nothing about legal substances, such as PEDs, nor does it say anything about what he actually did in the past. Let’s move on.

I've been tested hundreds of times throughout my career and never once have I tested positive.

I’m sure that’s true, but it doesn’t mean he is denying using PEDs. It might just mean he hasn’t gotten caught.

It is irresponsible and reckless for Jack Clark to have falsely accused me of using PED's.

This is a statement about Jack Clark’s alleged irresponsibility and recklessness. It is Pujols accusing Clark of wrongdoing, not a denial of his own wrongdoing. Had Pujols said "the accusations of me using PEDs are false", that would have been a denial. But he didn’t, so it’s not.

My faith in Jesus Christ, and my respect for this game are too important to me.

This is a proclamation of Pujols’ religious faith and its importance to him, and has no legal meaning.

I would never be able to look my wife or kids in the eye if I had done what this man is accusing me of.

The word "if" guarantees that this statement is meaningless. Is Pujols currently able to look his wife or kids in the eye? He doesn’t say.

I know people are tired of athletes saying they are innocent, asking for the public to believe in them, only to have their sins exposed later down the road. But I am not one of those athletes, and I will not stand to have my name and my family's name, dragged through the mud.

Again, "sins" is a religious term, and has no legal meaning.

I am currently in the process of taking legal action against Jack Clark and his employers at WGNU 920AM. I am going to send a message that you cannot act in a reckless manner, like they have, and get away with it. If I have to be the athlete to carry the torch and pave the way for other innocent players to see that you can do something about it, I am proud to be that person. I have five young children and I take being a role model very seriously. The last thing I want is for the fans, and especially the kids out there, to question my reputation and character.

The word "reckless" appears twice in Pujols allegations against Clark, and that’s because "reckless disregard for the truth" is a legal standard that Pujols will have to prove in order to prevail in his lawsuit against Clark. Pujols is threatening to sue Clark for defamation. Pujols will have the burden of proof, and must first prove that Clark’s statements were false.

After the landmark case of New York Times v. Sullivan, the law makes a distinction between public and private figures in a defamation case. Pujols is surely a public figure, so he will have to show that Clark was not merely negligent in making his false statements, but that he acted with "actual malice", meaning that Clark knew the statements were false, or that Clark made the statements with "a reckless disregard for the truth".

Now that Clark has been fired, it will be interesting to see if Pujols follows through with the suit, and if Clark issues a retraction. A retraction cannot eliminate Clark’s potential liability here, but could serve to mitigate (lessen) the damages, should Pujols prevail.

It's clear to me that Pujols' statement was drafted by an attorney, who cleverly created the impression of a denial, while saying nothing for which Pujols could later be held accountable.

This Fan-Post is authored by an independent fan. Tell us what you think and how you feel.

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