Feb. 19, 2013 — In January during an interview with Oprah Winfrey, cyclist Lance Armstrong admitted he took performance-enhancing drugs to boost oxygen levels in order to achieve victory in the Tour de France. Apparently his motivation was a “ruthless desire to win.”
I supported Armstrong until it was very clear he had indeed, cheated. My husband watches the Tour de France and is a cycling fan, so I was familiar with the athlete’s career. I remembered the articles I had read about his strict training regimen. Now we will never know the extent of his talent.
He was stripped of the seven victories in the Tour de France and banned from cycling. But we do know he was not the cyclist he professed to be.
The online Bing dictionary describes the word cheat as “deceiving or misleading someone, especially for personal gain.” I have difficulty understanding how winning at any cost is winning. If you did not achieve success with the skills you possess and disciplined training, you have no victory. The trophy on your mantel is meaningless.
This idea is probably the reason no baseball players were voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this year. It seems an era of steroid use had made it difficult to evaluate whether some of baseball’s most famous players were deserving of the honor.
Of course cheating is not unique to sports. Recently a cheating scandal at Harvard University made the news and resulted in the suspension of 60 students.
What prompts a person to cheat? Investigating the question, I uncovered an article by Piers Edwards (CNN) titled “What prompts a sports star to cheat?” dated December 2012. In the piece, the author quotes Ellis Cashmore, a professor of culture, media and sport at Staffordshire University in England, who contends players use drugs to level the playing field knowing they will be at a disadvantage if they don’t.
Edwards writes that a sprinter he did not wish to name supported this theory, stating although he trained hard he only came in fourth or fifth against athletes who did not train as diligently but doped instead.
In a book I am reading, the author described a time when she discovered one of her students had plagiarized the paper he wrote. When asked why he had cheated, he listed “severe family expectations, peer pressure and the need to be perfect.”
I suppose there are many reasons for cheating. According to the Bible, deceit is a characteristic of the heart. In Jeremiah 17:9 we read, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?”
We fool ourselves into thinking what we gain will be worth it, but is it? If it is a matter of the heart, our character is tarnished whether anyone knows it. We have chipped away at our integrity, honesty and trustworthiness which are worth much more than a gold medal in a race or an A on a paper.
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