We missed a gigantic sports story, while engrossed in Yasiel Puig's All-Star candidacy and Andy Murray's Wimbledon and Dwight Howard's merry tour of NBA franchises.
While even the Pittsburgh Pirates managed to leap onto the pile of distractions, a proud and ancient and entire sport managed to vault itself toward a newfound legitimacy.
I know I almost wept.
In a bygone time, you might have said the two-year suspension of a Canadian curling athlete did signal the end of time. But I am so tired of the end of time saying it's coming and then failing to show up that I'm not going to fall for that trap.
No, as we all can appreciate the rise of the ridiculed, let us exult in the fresh credibility of an oft-razzed sport. Curling has had its brushes with doping before, but this should cement it as a he-man athletic pursuit -- give it a place at the big table with the other sports -- inform us that, if doping can help a curler, then curling must be hard.
Come the 2014 Sochi Olympics, let us monitor the curling doping tests, even stand outside the doors when curlers put down the brooms and pick up the vials.
For so long, curling seemed a moral outlier.
As we came out of the doping-denial darkness of the 1990's and into the 2000's, my brain changed one day in September 2000, when I picked up a phone in Australia and dialed Pennsylvania. As the Sydney Games fixed to begin, I asked Dr. Charles Yesalis, the Penn State epidemiologist, if I could read the alphabetical list of all 31 sports, so that he might indicate which ones I might watch without worrying about somebody doping -- sports for which doping might have nebulous effect.
He halted my blathering, thank goodness, and asked me to name a sport in which it wouldn't help to train with unnatural frequency. Soon I had a fresh consciousness in which table tennis because suspicious, and sure enough, the Sydney Games rapidly produced a table tennis doping positive.
From there, the world moved on to milestones in doping positives, such as in synchronized swimming and, a personal favorite, race-walking. The London 2012 race-walking scandal -- a phrase I like to employ from time to time in general conversation -- prompted a teary race-walking press conference in Italy, an event of such rarity that I still lament missing it all these months later.
Can you imagine attending a teary race-walking press conference in Italy?
Have you, ever?
What food must they serve at a race-walking-doping press conference in Italy?
One by one, the sports I presumed were immune to doping during those clueless days of yore peeled away, but Dr. Yesalis in 2005 did cite curling as a possible refuge from the doping spectre. "Oh, hell, there's nothing involved there!" he said to me on the phone. "It's a bunch of guys, many who have big bellies, with brooms!"
Relieved, I hatched a book idea in which I would follow curling for a year, learning its intricacies and extolling it as perhaps the lone clean sport that could be viewed with a clear conscience. Very strangely, nobody who heard this book idea seemed to believe such a book would lure very many readers.
The prospect of rampaging sales in Norway did not persuade.
Now curling -- which dates to a time and place (16th century Scotland) when people seemed to walk around thinking up sports that would last for centuries -- grows up again before our very eyes. It will not stand for athletic mockery. It will have its turn at the testosterone tilt-a-whirl.
After all, the curler who tested positive at the World Men's Curling Championships in Victoria, B.C. -- the curler suspended for two years as announced last week, Canada's Matt Dumontelle -- was an alternate.
He didn't even get in the match.
That's right: In curling, you don't want to mess with even their alternates.
"I was taking a workout supplement that I believed was safe; clearly, it was not, and I regret that decision," he said in a statement, maybe even a sweeping statement. He was taking Methandienone Metabolites, with their androgenic effects, but said, "I had no intentions of trying to beat the system."
Who knows, he may be earnest; he may not be. We all have heard these pleas before from athletes in other sports, but now we have heard them in the game where they shove the 42-pound stone down the ice toward the circular target 93 feet away.
That's some serious business right there, maybe even the kind of challenge where a guy might need a little boost. International Olympic Committee numbers indicate that the Winter Olympics between 1968 and 2010 saw 12 doping positives in cross-country skiing, six in ice hockey, three in biathlon, one in Alpine skiing and zero in curling. Yet now you can eye 2014 and envision the sport truly, truly belonging.