Blog #624 Cheaters never win

Cheaters Never Win

So, how about looking at one of my former “idols” – Lance Armstrong.  

I loved watching the Tour de France.  I appreciate the announcers, the glorious scenery, the plots and plans of the riders and teams.  The teams have some generalists, and some specialists. Some are climbers for the mountains, some are sprinters – to finish off the various legs of the race.  

But, it is a grueling sport.  Riding a hundred miles every day is tough.  Riding a hundred miles every day racing with other riders – who want to beat you (and everyone else) to the finish line is tougher,  There are falls, broken limbs, scrapped up arms and legs. It can be cool in the morning, but hot in the afternoon. Pushing yourself up one of the higher mountains in the Alps with dangerous switchbacks – and then coming down that mountain at breakneck speed – you get the idea that the term ‘breakneck’ could really mean what it says as you could break your neck.

There is the old adage ‘do the ends justify the means’.  To get to the top, to win sometimes means ‘winning at any price’.  And, ‘winning at any price can mean finding ways to win beyond just human skill.

Bike racing has gotten a bad image over the years.  Some riders take performance enhancing drugs to get an edge.  Most of those can be detected in standard drug tests after a race.  “I need to win; I must win” becomes the only thing in a person’s mind.  And, if I have to cheat to win, I have to do that.

I’m not exactly sure how Lance Armstrong cheated (and was able to bypass the drug tests).  Seemingly after he had ways to cheat the testing system. Seemingly one of the tests was for testosterone.  While testosterone is a common element in humans (especially men), if you could get to the acceptable limit without going ‘into the red zone’ was part of the process.  Newer synthetic drugs were not detected by standard urine and blood tests (until recently).

Yes, the money and the fame goes to the winners, an Lance Armstrong was a winner.  Even with the performance enhancing drugs, I am amazed on his performances. They were epic (and ultimately an epic failure).

But, hey, isn’t a little cheating okay?  Like if you are playing cards – a little innocent look at your opponent’s hand as you walk behind him or her to get a sip of water – isn’t that bad is it?  If you are playing bridge and you see that the person next to you has a singleton ace of clubs, that might help you develop your strategy (instead of having to finesse or play the odds to find that card).  

Maybe a student has formulas written on his or her arm – and covered by a long sleeve shirt.  During a test where the student was not allowed to have formulas (and should have memorized them), the person could casually slide up their shirt to see the formulas.  Or, you could have historical dates and events written on a small slip of paper. There are many ways a student could cheat on a test.

While the methods can vary, the intent is to score higher through other than human means.  Recently the cheating to get into the ‘right’ college has surfaced. Do the ends justify the means?  To get a better job, I can lie on my application. (After all, who is really going to check that I graduated from XYZ University?).  

The concept that remains is that somehow, someway, a person sought a competitive advantage by cheating – through bribery, through drugs, even through spying on your competition and stealing concepts (and patents or copyrighted ideas).  

So, what goes through a person’s mind – some have a high tolerance for cheating – “I cheated, everybody cheats, so what?”.  And others have a low tolerance for cheating. “I just can’t do that”.

Maybe it all is down to ethics, to moral values, and even to group values.  Ethics are hard to nail down. Don’t cheat, don’t steal sometimes are less absolute to some people.

So, how about you?  Do you know of cheaters who got ahead by cheating?  


(And, a story.  In her last years of her life, my mother lived in an assisted living home.  They would play bingo frequently and the price for winning as one of the little chocolate bars that you give out at Halloween.  My mother had macular degeneration and could barely see. She had memorized two bingo cards – so she didn’t need to search for specific values (by-the-way I was very impressed with that).  One day after a couple of hours without having a bingo (and without winning a tiny chocolate bar) she slipped a marker on one of her cards so she could be a winner. Maybe, just maybe, in that case, the end of a tiny chocolate bar justified a small cheat to win at bingo when you are 98 years old!!!)

Posted by Bruce White

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