You hear it every time an athlete is busted for PEDs: “He/she needs to come clean and explain what he/she did. Only then can he/she begin to repair the damage to his/her reputation and legacy he/she has done.”
MM Haigh found that baseball players who apologized to their fans were no more likely to receive positive news coverage than those who did not. Jessica Korn studied polling data (pdf) and discovered that admission and apology actually resulted in decreased favorability, while denial was a more successful PR strategy.
This comes in a piece at The Guardian by Harry Enten about how Lance Armstrong’s confession to Oprah was actually way more damaging to his favorability ratings than merely staying silent would have done.
If you’re 2002 Ken Caminiti and you’re just looking for a way to clear your conscience, cool, go public. But if you’re actually interested in protecting or preserving your popularity or legacy or reputation or whatever, going public about your PED use is counterproductive. Which shouldn’t be surprising given how every single public confession of PED use is followed up with sports writers penning columns about how the apology or confession was insincere, too late or otherwise inadequate.
It’s almost as if those sports writers who say that the athlete should confess his sins are really just interested in more column fodder.
(thanks to Ethan for the heads up)