Thoughts on Cheating

While I was riding this morning I was watching the DVD’s from the 2006 Tour de France. As you will recall this is the year that Floyd Landis won the whole enchilada but…one of his samples tested positive for a higher than normal ratio of human testosterone to human epitestosterone. The accepted upper limit of that ratio of T/E is 4:1. Landis’ sample came back at 11:1. His suspension was later upheld by the Court of Arbitration of Sport. Most people accept that he is guilty. There were also other riders who tested positive for banned substances before the Tour even began. A couple of the favorites were out before the Tour even began. It was a dark year for the Tour.

What I started thinking about was how guilty was Landis. A deeper question emerged: If everyone else is breaking the rules, does that make you doing so wrong too or is there some type of justification when you want to be competitive. Like I often do, I made the question more personal to try and gain greater clarity. If everyone else was cutting the marathon by 10 miles during an Ironman, would I do the same? Regardless if I was going to place or not, would I do the same? What if I was really hurting and knew without cutting the course, I wouldn’t finish that day. Would I cheat then?

I think this is a deep, deep question to consider. Personally, I think that true character is revealed when one is under duress. Sport is a great way to find out what someone is really made of. For me, I think I would rather DNF than cut the course. I believe that triathlon especially is a fantastic way to test yourself. In testing yourself, why would you cut corners? I can’t believe that even when I have the chance that I would choose to cut the course short.

So, back to Landis. Did he do it? I don’t know. I like to believe he is clean, but all the evidence points to his guilt. But what if the evidence is tainted? What if the information you have been given is wrong? I think only he can answer that question. But take nothing from him — Landis is a fantastic athlete and has many, many accomplishments before the TdF. Of course, the 2006 TdF puts some of those in question. But for me, I will choose to celebrate them and the man that I feel was a great ambassador to the sport of cycling.

I am not the world’s greatest Armstrong fan either. I think that he is one of the best cyclists ever born, but the way he conducts his personal life has somewhat of a theme of “entitlement”. So, I love his work on the bike and his efforts with LiveStrong. Him personally, I think you have much better examples of how to live your personal life out there. The difference between Lance and Floyd is that Lance has never had a specimen come back positive for anything and Lance has been tested time and time again. Do I think Lance is clean? I hope so. I really want to believe that he is. If we trust the results from the Landis tests then we have to trust the results from the Armstrong tests.

My mind wanders a lot when I am on the bike and you can see it was all over the place this morning. I am not sure I came to any new conclusions on Landis or Armstrong, but I did reaffirm my commitment to absolute integrity during races. I will be drafting as much as I can during the swim, but I will stay at least five seconds behind bikers. Once the pelaton arrives, I will do what I can to get out of it — either dropping them or coasting behind them. During the run, there will be no accepting outside assistance of any type. I have always run my races this way, but there seems to be a greater purpose in making sure that I run a clean race for the Ironman St. George.

I always want the memory of my first to be exceptional on all levels…

About the Author

I have been participating in running and triathlons for 10 years and love the feeling that training provides. You may not agree with me, but you know you just can't look away...