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Parke speaks out (Part 1)

Jeff Parke ( 

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With the roar of a sell-out crowd resonating in the background, Jeff Parke sat in the press box of Qwest Field on Thursday night trying to make sense of what has become of his career. If fate had been a bit kinder to him, Parke might have actually been on the field with the Red Bulls for Thursday night's unforgettable debut of the Seattle Sounders. Instead, Parke was in street clothes, pondering his future.

Some five months after being suspended by MLS for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug, Parke bared his soul. He didn't hide behind prepared statements or avoid the subject of his career-altering suspension. Parke instead tried his best to explain his situation, even as he still deals with the toll it is taking on his life and his career.

"It's tough because it's something that's going to follow me for the rest of my life," Parke said of his drug suspension. "It's something that I have a lot of anger about, but I just have to put it behind me and I have to hope that people see me for who I am and they look at me for the player I am instead of what happened to me."

Parke is in Seattle, where he is in contract talks with the Sounders, who hold his rights after selecting him in the expansion draft. A return to MLS looks likely after he tried and failed to land a contract in Europe, where the stigma of his suspension proved too difficult to overcome.

"I had teams lined up but when they found out about my suspension they would just say 'Sorry, we can't take a chance with a guy that just (got suspended for taking performance-enhancing drugs)."

"Their interpretation over there is like "What has he been shooting up?"

Parke never wavered in his insistence that the events that led to his 10-game suspension were caused by a tainted over-the-counter supplement, but he also accepted the blame for making a mistake.

"I do blame myself because if I look back on it now I should have just gotten everything I was taking tested," Parke said. "If there had been something wrong with it then I don't taken it.

"The thing was is that the product I took had nothing that says that its banned," Parke said. "Even if I gave it to someone how would they have known something was wrong?"

"The product was tainted. How was I supposed to know that," Parke said, with a tone that was more somber than angry. "If I knew that going into it there was no way I would have even considered (taking) it. I'd be like 'this isn't me. I don't need to be taking something that's questionable'."

"Everybody knew that I was taking supplements, it wasn't an unknown thing," Parke said. "It's not like I was sneaking into a stall and taking something. It was powder I was putting in my drink just like everybody does."

While the details of Parke's failed drug test emerged five months ago, it didn't stop Parke from being labeled as a typical steroid-abusing pro athlete in some circles. Parke knows the label he carries now, but insisted that he never intended to break any rules.

"By no means would I ever want to cheat or put myself ahead of the game," Parke said. "That being said, it is what it is, what's wrong is wrong and its behind me.

"It's tough for me because, at the end of the day, I want people to know what happened," Parke said. "I want people to see me for who I am, not for what the reports said.

"If they knew the whole story, and what happened, and they met me, they would know that's not who I am and that's not part of my character."

For now, Parke is left to try and rebuild his career, something that he has already learned won't be easy.


(Look for Part Two of this story later today, with Parke discussing everything from his talks with the Sounders to his departure from New York.)

Share your thoughts on this story in the comments section below.


  1. While I admire Parke for speaking out and showing remorse I am just not buying his excuse that a bad rep is stopping him from landing at a new club.

    Sure the reputation isn’t going to help but if a European squad felt Parke was a quality talent they would gladly take a chance on Parke.

  2. shouldn’t redbull be giving some sort of seminar to it’s players about these supplements.
    Like here’s a list of banned supplements.
    Very simple .
    I think they would want to steer their players clear of any trouble.
    Where are the Redbull trainers and health staff. This shoudl be the number one priority. Keeping your players healthy and clear of banned substances.

  3. get rid of pietrovallo, get rid of echeverry, get rid of boyens, use that money to buy his rights from seattle and the rest of the money to sign parke to a good contract. Boyens, echeverry, and pietrovallo are dead weight they ear up so much cap space, if we had parke in the middle with pacheco, johnson, and celedas and stammler at d mid we would actually have a good defense for once.

  4. If I understand Seattle’s position, they are willing to sign and play him. If he needs to rebuild why wouldn’t he sign with a team that wants him and will give him a chance to redeem or prove himself?

    Maybe after last night’s win he also sees that Seattle is not a typical expansion team and he will get exposure that can help him rebuild his career.

  5. As a Seattle fan, I would be glad to see Parke sign with Sounders FC and strengthen the team. My suggestion is to treat the situation as you would an injury that kept you out for the same period. Once you are playing again, your reputation will be dominated by how you played in your most recent matches. The newly granted opportunity to train with your team will let you get match ready. Please join Seattle for the 2009 ride!

  6. WHY isn’t the so-called TAINTED product tested? Does the company admit that it is possible? IS THERE ANY EVIDENCE AT ALL that the product was tainted? If this is all true, shouldn’t he be very very rich after suing a pharmaceutical company for ruining his career? Are these companies not required to mention the ingredients of their products? Can he answer ANY of these questions? doubt it.

  7. I hope Parke moves and gets sorted out with Seattle. That said,…I do believe that his suspension had anyting to with NOT being signed in Europe. It sounds a lot like the Mike Burns situation. Teams took a look at him,…thought he was a decent player but probably thought they could do just as well with a young domestic player.

    After last night, it is looking like the Red Bulls could use him.

  8. cepero is overrated,if anybody saw the second goal seattle scored yesterday and the goal moreno scored in the mls final you will see my point of reason

  9. Was it StarCaps?

    Several NFL players are fighting the league over an ingredient that was not listed and was illegally included.

  10. Admire that he actually discussed it. Not sure if Europe was necessarily lined up for his services but too bad.

    Guilty or innocent, these supplement issues will continue as it is very possible an athelete to take a Flintstone’s vitamen and find something illegal in it.

  11. Parke. made a mistake, owned up to it, and took his punishment. It will take a while to rebuild his reputation but given the comments he made about the situation, he should have the reputation restored in no time. Mistakes need to be punished but Parke has handled it with the upmost class. I don’t hold any ill will toward him. He’s not like other athletes who hide in the shame or are in constant denial they did something wrong. It’s shame this harmed his European hopes. I had a feeling it would. That’s ok. I think he’ll find a nice home in Seattle and be part of good team. Maybe this incident was a blessing in disguise.

  12. Sorry you’re going through this but you did it to yourself. Had plenty of time outside your 2-3 hours of practice every day to get it checked out. It’s not like performance enhancing drugs weren’t on everyone’s lips while at this time.

  13. The guy’s name is escaping me at the moment, but there was a story in S.I. about 8 years ago featuring the professor at UCLA who is considered the father of drug testing. In it, he stated that drug testing is pointless. He went into dozens of technical reasons why those who cheat at the high end of the spectrum will always be a few years ahead of the testing arc. Suffice it to say that his belief is that the cheaters have more money and resources and will just keep tweaking this stuff every couple of years.

    The real point of his article is that all testing should stop and we should accept that cheating is part of the modern paradigm of sports. I’m didn’t really buy it at the time and I’m not sure I do now, but, why did he think it should stop? Because he believed at the time that the only people who would get busted for cheating would be those who weren’t even aware that they were crossing the line (using prescriptions that contain banned substances–inhalers, etc., AND :SUPPLEMENTS THAT CONTAIN UNSPECIFIED SUBSTANCES.

    Parke is a case in point. Silly. Nothing he took could have given him ANY competitive advantage, even if he’d been taking it since he was 10 years old. That is a fact that is not in dispute by any sector of the scientific community. Frankly, I’d consider legally challenging the ban, since there is ZERO data to validate the culpability of any of them. This is just plain silly and shows how American’s (that would include me) just love a witchhunt.

    Sports, once again, failing to address the real issues and instead making scapegoats out of ignorant innocents. As far as I’m concerned, it’s defamation of character. Meanwhile, the real cheaters like Rodriguez, McGuire, et al. are laughing all the way to the bank. Just plain silly.

  14. Hate it happened and hate how hard the punishment. But it had to be harsh. Look at MLB they are all a bunch of roidheads. The “powers” that be did right. Set an example that this won’t be allowed.

  15. Pure class. Given the effect the suspension is having on his personal life and career, it makes you wonder what purpose the suspension is serving… Maybe a warning for a first-time offense would be more appropriate for a situation like this?

  16. Why is a supplement that contains a substance banned from a professional league available over the counter?

    So a high school kid could take this (stuff), but it’s banned at the professional level. WTF?

  17. @Squard – Totally agree and perhaps people may now understand why Ives (and others) are so shocked at Conway’s refusal to offer any sort of explanation regarding his suspension.

  18. I think you got screwed Jeff. The powers that be were thrilled your name wasn’t Landon so they could punish and stigmatize you to the fullest extent.

  19. Parke’s a good guy, a class act, an outstanding example of where you don’t have to be a high draft choice with rep to make it in this game. I hope he hooks on with the right team and gets a chance to continue to show he’s a player.

  20. Love the guy for his hard-nosed play and his great attitude. What a painful loss it’s proving to be. All is forgiven, Jeff.

  21. Parke to NY for Goldthwaite, Boyens, and allocation money 🙂

    Hey, they had their way with Goldthwaite and Boyens so much last night, the least they can do is take them out to dinner in Seattle.

  22. My heart breaks for Parke. I wish him absolutely all the best for his future and really wish it was affordable for the Red Bulls to buy his rights back (Lord knows we could use him).

    The way he’s carried himself since the suspension and everything he’s done for the team prior to this incident, I’m sure he hasn’t lost too many RBNY fans. And if he does sign for Seattle I hope they are good to him.


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