Integrity Matters
October 29, 2003

Athletes using steroids setting a poor example

Question: (E-074)

Dear Jim,

I am offended that some of our most gifted and privileged athletes have been using THG, an illegal "designer" steroid product that avoided detection until now. Athletic competition is supposed to be about fair play, playing by the rules, honor, etc. and not about the race to find the latest molecular wrinkle for a non-detectable performance enhancing drug? What can be done?


Most importantly, society has not lost integrity because self-serving and self-destructive sports figures have chosen to cheat. Yes, certain individuals have elected to break the rules and they set an awful example for their honest peers and more importantly for the younger generation looking toward them as positive role models. One reporter, who was addressing this topic of performance enhancing drugs, suggests that "cheaters will always find another way." Were this about the paying of taxes, one would accuse the person a tax evasion. They might be prosecuted, pay a fine and spend time behind bars -- or all three. Even though cheaters will continue to pursue their corner-cutting methods, all is not lost. Integrity-centered oversight organizations press forward in their relentless pursuit of honesty and fairness. Over and over, our caution is clear: Unless free markets (and athletes) regulate themselves, governments will.

Sports competition has become for many only the prelude for entrepreneurial enterprise, leveraging physical talent and competition for financial gain. These peak performers (legal or dishonest) produce profits for powerful partners. Perhaps the distorted thinking of those involved in using illegal substances is similar to other high profile "white collar" criminals.

Perhaps the emotional "rush" that is provided by legitimate victory is not enough for them unless it is accompanied with the additional thrill of having "bilked the system" and cheated all of the honest participants whom they might refer to as simply "chumps" -- those who play by the rules.

With investigation under way on abuses with the world of sports, new governmental restrictions will emerge that could stifle competition and the very spirit essential to maintain a climate of excellence.

What are we teaching the future generations when we reduce life’s noble activities, including sports competition, to an equation that always rests upon prestige, bragging rights and ill-gotten financial rewards? Integrity-centered behavior stands for more -- and so must the generation that is responsible for leadership. Simply stated: Play fair and insist on fair play.

Home Page | About Us | Ask Bracher | Services | Resources | Contact Us

©Bracher Center for Integrity in Leadership and Dimension Five Consultants, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
P.O. Box 22467, Carmel, California 93922