28 November 2010

Would your friend cheat?

"He would never do that," "he is such a nice guy".
Doping in sports brings up so many interesting questions. Do we really know people? There are things we will never know about others. There are things I never want to know about others. Doping in sports might be one of those things. As political scandals and sex scandals fill the media I am able to distance myself from the harsh truth that life is not fair by saying those people are not like me. When I am shocked by friends who have lied or cheated, or people who have stolen credit for my work, or people blatantly treating others with little to no respect, I am hit head-on with the reality that I really do not know the character of others.
Doping in sports raises a basic question: is the presumed character of a man a defense for doping? Are statements of "he would never do that," "he is such a nice guy" a potent defense? I understand that much of the accusations of doping could be slander, it certainly destroys a career until and even after the conviction is or is not delivered. But believing someone would never dope is as valid as hope. Even nice people can cheat. 
Recently the doping conviction of a local athlete Chuck Coyle hit much closer to home. He is a man that I have watched race. He pulls into the parking lot before the race like everyone else, he pumps his tires, checks his gear, and affixes his race number. He lines up at the start line next to people he has called friends for years. His entire social circle in Boulder, CO is wrapped around his love of the sport. He has an image. He is a bike racer. But he could also be one big lier and cheater. He was never going to be a big time racer, he cheated his friends and himself. 
However nice you think a man is, doping is not nice. To be guilty of doping the cyclist held the drug in his hands and knowingly ingested, transfused, or injected a substance into his body. It took some time to get it done and he was there. Was there a moment when he considered the side-effects, the ramifications, or did he only see his perceived benefits? He made a decision that it was worth it - to him. No one else needed to know, hopefully no one would know. It was his decision.
Sometimes what we dislike in others is what we hate about ourselves. Those who are most outraged about Chuck Coyle's behavior cannot be ignorant to that fact that life is unfair, perhaps they are most outraged that we all walk the moral line. We are all vulnerable and I believe you either got it or you don't. Some people just don't feel bad when they do wrong. Ernest Hemingway once said, "About morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after". Everyone decides their own bad. 
Doping is wrong, and being a nice guy like Chuck Coyle, or being an admirable and powerful citizen like Lance Armstrong should not break or make a case. If a man chose wrong, he should be responsible for his actions because in the end it was his actions. The rest of us chose not to cheat.
And those of us who did not cheat should have the security to know, as Willa Cather said, "No one can build his security upon the nobleness of another person". 

A thought: I think it curious that Lance Armstrong recently began to twitter as @juanpelota right about the time that his doping investigation crested. Is this intimate alter-ego of his a way of mirroring and recreating himself from himself? Could he possibly know that bad news is coming his way, and he is creating a second chance now, or is it a curious coincidence. There is no running from the self, "Where ever you go, there you are" - Confucius

Other Articles: 
Armstrong investigators weighing politics, too
Who is Chuck Coyle?
USADA witness Joe Papp admits conspiracy to sell EPO, HGH "earlier this year, Papp appeared in U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania and entered a guilty plea to two counts of conspiracy to distribute EPO and HGH, specifically from 2006 to 2007. While Papp acknowledged that he had a customer list including more than 180 buyers, none of those names was revealed at the time."
The Explainer: How do we get from aging dopers to the big names? "So with the federal investigators now focusing on the upper levels of the sport, USADA still has that list of customers out there. It appears that some of those names are coming out … one or two at a time. Stay tuned. "

Post post on 12//02/10: I am quite appalled to read that upon notice of his doping offense, Chuck Coyle, this "local racer" contacted one of the best lawyers in the country.  I am shaking my head at a local Master's racer running to the best lawyer in the country, then claiming he was forced to plea guilty because he couldn't afford the legal fees. There are plenty of lawyers waiting for these cases, and they will be busy when the other names come out.
The Explainer: Greeting! You’re busted By Charles Pelkey Updated: Dec 2nd 2010 5:44 PM EST "In Coyle’s case, he actually did seek the advice of an attorney. Indeed, he sought out the best in his field, California’s Howard Jacobs, who has represented a host of top-tier athletes charged with doping violations, including Hamilton and Landis, as well as track-and-field stars Tim Montgomery and Marion Jones. According to Coyle, he learned that mounting a defense against the charges he was facing, “would cost me $20,000.” Coyle says he concluded that since he didn’t have that money available, he simply caved in and accepted his suspension. Well, whether his vanishing teammates defense was valid or not, he still had other options. While Ruger’s list of available attorneys is quite good, there are a number of other attorneys quite familiar with the machinations of doping law.