Before diving into the promised topic, I should mention I had my first prescribed MRI on Friday. Not only did I live to tell about it but I believe I had a fairly pleasant nap during the procedure. There is still probably one to go, but for now the experience wasn’t worth the drama.
While perusing social media the last couple days, I encountered several stories involving complaints and tales of on-line bullying by the greater running and triathlon community. The subjects of said bullying were people who had been caught cheating in races, typically marathons but often triathlon.
I’ve seen this bullying first hand. There are a couple of websites that are well known for public witch hunts when someone is caught out in a lie. It isn’t pretty and I’m glad I’m not the subject of it. It certainly wouldn’t be something anyone would or should endure and I certainly don’t condone or participate in the behavior.
But one article I read was by a runner chastising the running community for this behavior and asking us to all to stop. Somewhere in the article the author mentioned the word respect. Respect. I believe the old adage goes “Respect is not something given, it’s earned”.
While I will never condone bullying or public lynching (well mostly never), those who choose to cheat need to realize that whether public comments or actions are made toward them, the very act of cheating betrays trust. If a person has shown they are willing to cheat even at something as simple as a race, they have proven themselves to be untrustworthy.
A recent example is Ariana Monticeli, a professional triathlete from Brazil. She tested positive for EPO at the Ironman Buenos Ares 70.3. In her explanation she insisted it was a one-time thing because she wanted to win again. Too late! The precedent has been set that Ms. Monticeli is willing to be deceitful to achieve success. Why would I suddenly start believing “It was a one time thing”? I Have no evidence to show that there is a willingness to be truthful and honest or the athlete would have never cheated to start with. Like all other examples, Ms. Monticeli didn’t come out with her admission of using EPO until caught which leads me to believe she wasn’t ready to be honest.
The same holds true for age group athletes who cut courses, use bib mules (someone faster runs with their timing chip), or who cheats in some other fashion to one-up their peers and gain an unfair advantage. In a locker room discussion the other day, we were talking about MarathonInvestigation.com and their latest catch. MarathonInvestigation.com is run by a gentleman dedicated to outing cheaters in marathons and half-marathons. He doesn’t do it in a bullying fashion, but he isn’t afraid to call out names either once insurmountable evidence has been collected. The discussion in the locker room was “Why do this? If it weren’t for Boston qualifying times nobody would care”? I hope that isn’t the case though the number of people locked out of Boston every year is certainly a significant factor in anger over race cheats in marathons. I think it is always worth rooting out those that are willing to be unsportsmanlike and diminish the hard work of others.
The attitude of the cheaters or their supporters is often something like “Well, it’s just a race. I thought it was victimless and nobody would care”. The problem with such an idea is that it completely disrespects the event. Whether it is a local fun 5K or the New York Marathon, there are people out there that have dedicated many weeks to training and view the event as an important part of their lives. Something that may not be important to one person, is extremely important to others. These events require respect for the rules, respect for the other participants, their families, the race director, and the spectators. When someone cheats it also does not show respect for oneself. I am proud of the athletic events I’ve accomplished in my later years. I can’t imagine how it would feel to go through life knowing I cheated . . knowing I didn’t really do what I said I did. I will never understand the cheating mentality.
I would be hard-pressed to otherwise do business with a person whom I know to be a cheater. I certainly wouldn’t hire them as my accountant, banker, or doctor. Once a person has set a deceitful precedent it becomes impossible for others to discern the truth.
So to the cheaters out there, I don’t expect you to be bullied for your actions, but neither should you expect me to look upon you and any parts of your life with anything other than glasses tinged with doubt about what’s real and what isn’t. Remember this before you decide to cheat. Respect the game. Respect your competitors. Respect yourself or don’t expect respect from anyone else.