Drugs couldn't kill baseball. Despite the morality plays, the kangaroo court, the mass hand-wringing about rewriting record books, the sport emerged from the steroid era having paid much lip service and offered much penance, and as a business stronger than ever.
Drugs didn't kill the NFL, where positive tests and suspensions are treated only a little more seriously than a late hit on a star quarterback.
Drugs haven't killed the business of the Olympic Games, even with its necessary wholesomeness quota.
And, of course, no one in the NHL uses drugs, so the point doesn't even need to be made.
But drugs did pretty much kill track and field, at least in North America, as a live and television sport. The once-every-four-years crowd still tunes in for the Olympics, but what several decades back was a circuit of well-attended indoor and outdoor meets, featuring the sport's greatest stars, has dried up to just about nothing.
There were co-factors as well, changing tastes, inept organization, exorbitant appearance fees - take your pick.
But from Ben Johnson on, with Marion Jones applying the coup de grace, track found and passed the general public's level of tolerance when it came to perceived cheating in a peripheral pastime.
No, that's not fair to the clean competitors, and it's not fair to the sport in general. It's just true.
Whether that perception is in the process of changing now, whether a big event in Toronto is a one-off blip or a sign of shifting levels of tolerance, remains an open question.
But it's at least worth considering whether Usain Bolt's nickname ought to be "The Antidote."
His remarkable world-record performance at the Beijing Games last summer, his happy-go-lucky demeanour, and his tall, gangly, surely-can't-be-built-by-science physique (allow us a little naïveté here) generated tremendous goodwill, and tremendous interest.
Thursday night at the remade Varsity Stadium, Bolt will be the headliner of the Festival of Excellence, though his time on stage figures to be just less than 10 seconds, with the men's 100 metres closing out the night. It is the first big track event in Toronto since the disastrous match race between Michael Johnson and Donovan Bailey in 1997, and organizers, including the host University of Toronto, expect a sell out, though tickets top out at the big city price of $250. Co-featured is a 100-metre-hurdles showdown between hometown stars Perdita Felicien and Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, and there are a host of past Olympians represented in other events (including decathlon gold medalist Bryan Clay competing in a made-for-the-meet "triathlon").
But, like Ben Johnson's post-Seoul return at Copps Coliseum in 1991, which also generated a full house, this is really all about one guy, with the rest of the sport hoping to latch on to his coattails.
"From what I've been told, Toronto used to be this great track mecca," Felicien said. "It hasn't been for decades. And when I first heard about the Festival of Excellence, I thought 'It's never going to happen.' But here we are."
Bolt, who was also presented yesterday with the Laureus Sportsman of the Year award by Michael Johnson and Edwin Moses, drew a huge media contingent for yesterday's pre-event press conference, including a smattering of heavy hitters from Europe.
After running 9.69 in Beijing despite time lost celebrating over the last few metres, he was asked about the new limits of human- speed potential, about how fast he might run - he's only 22 years old - before his career is done.
"People expect maybe 9.5," he said. "But I think it's going to take a lot of work to get there."
There was a time, not really so long ago, when any school kid in Canada could rhyme off the magical number: 9.79. Then came the big asterisk, which blotted out the sport, partially blotted out the careers of both Bailey and Bruny Surin, and left spectators here with almost no opportunity to see the world's best, live.
It's a great entertainment, a track meet, like a three-ring circus, with events overlapping, with nary a dull moment, with the adrenalin rush of the sprints, the intricate strategies of the distance races, the enormous technical challenge of the field events.
This year, Bolt brings it an audience in Toronto for the first time in a long time. Next year, probably without him, we'll see.
And we'll see, too, if that cloud really has begun to lift.