by Ethics Newsline contributor Kim Strom-Gottfried, PhD
Lance Armstrong: seven-time winner of the Tour de France. Ryan Braun: 2012 National League baseball Most Valuable Player (MVP) award winner. Tyson Gay: three-time Olympic Gold Medal sprinter. Alex Rodriguez: three-time American League baseball MVP.
Each man is a phenomenal athlete but each has been disciplined in recent months for the use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). These are just the best-known of dozens of cases of disgraced competitors from track and field, baseball, cycling, and other sports.
Why would elite athletes resort to using banned substances, especially in an era of aggressive drug detection strategies? Like generations of wayward teenagers before them, the accused retort that “everybody’s doing it.” In the words of bicyclist Lance Armstrong, the race was “impossible to win without doping” and he “simply participated in a system.”
Does that mean that cheating is the new normal — not only in sports, but in classrooms, boardrooms, and newsrooms? In his book The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead, David Callahan suggests that, in any segment of society, deceit results when people perceive that the deck is stacked against them and that only an extra turn can make up the difference.
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