The cover article for the Sports Sunday section of this weekend’s New York Times features excerpts from ‘Cycle of Lies’ Juliet Macur’s new book on Lance Armstrong. Reading this story reminds me of several conversations I had with a professional riding coach when I lived in New Mexico in 1997. It was obvious then that the culture of professional cycling was so corrupt that Lance had to be cheating. I used to share that belief with others well before it became obvious to the world. The challenge for all of us who try to live with high integrity is what to do when everyone around you is cheating? For a competitive cyclist to succeed then you simply had to cheat. If you didn’t, someone else would and that would put you at a significant disadvantage not just in terms of winning but around fame, fortune, and your ability to make a living at the sport you loved.
It seems that until we live in a world that is more evolved, we need regulatory bodies to make sure some athletes, businesspeople or citizens don’t have an unfair advantage over others. Of course, the cheaters often evolve faster than the overseers and the race to find better and more sophisticated ways to cheat such as undetectable drugs, computer viruses, fake currencies, and other scams continues. The good news is that the world seems to becoming more and more transparent, a positive byproduct of new technology. The challenge in our fast changing paced modern culture is to live authentically which sometimes means passing on questionable opportunities that others will agree too. Given Lance’s competitiveness, ruthless desire to win, and fundamental insecurity, his choices was obvious. What’s yours?