Winning At All Costs

olafenizer's picture
Rank: King Kong | 1,115

They finally did it. Yesterday the International Cycling Union officially stripped Lance Armstrong of all of his wins back to August 1998, including his seven Tour de France titles. While Lance claims he never failed a test, there was certainly enough evidence from those who rode with him to show that he and others were engaged in a systematic effort to dope. They all wanted to win, and they were all doing everything they could to do to win. Is there anything wrong with that?

We are always looking for an edge. People drink coffee and Red Bull. They pop Adderall pills. Kids in China have even gotten IV drips while studying for the national college entrance exam. Within a certain limit (and I'm not sure whether IV drips are within this limit) this is all more-or-less considered okay. There is no punishment for real world 'doping'. You'll never hear of an instance where a bank loses a deal because the analyst had too much Starbucks in his system. One could probably argue that juicing the analysts helps win pitches.

So why is it then that in the regular world looking for advantages over one's peers is welcomed and encouraged, while frowned upon in sports? And even in sports, the punishment depends on what your discipline is. How does it make sense that A-Rod uses steroids and gets off scot-free, but Lance does basically the same thing and gets tarred and feathered for it?

Nothing in life is fair, but in this one area --sports-- we try to make it just that. But even then it isn't fair. There are continual advances in nutritional science, newer racing techniques are figured out, and better gear is invented. All of this factors into a victory. Lance won because he figured out the formula to winning better than his competitors. How is having a better engineered bike fundamentally different than putting a chemical in one's system? Do they not both provide an advantage?

I doubt many of us are professional cyclists. But we are professional investment bankers, traders, researchers, etc. We like to win and we do what it takes to achieve victory. Sometimes that means venturing in to gray areas. For some, that can also mean going well beyond the gray area.

What would you do to win? Is there a line that you wouldn't cross? Why not?

Comments (34)

Best Response
Oct 23, 2012

you dont really understand the point of the sport, do you?

    • 2
Oct 23, 2012

Mediocre conversation starter at best.

Your essay invents an ethical tension in sports that doesn't exist to that degree (i.e., sports routinely regulate the equipment used as they do substances ingested by athletes, advances in nutritional science don't provide the same edge as banned substances, etc.). The bright line is actually quite distinct. The essay also makes laughable comparisons: drinking coffee/Redbull is not remotely like doping.

Your conversation starter lines are too divorced from the essay (why do we need to sit through a page of hazy rambling about doping in sports to get to where we draw the distinction in completely different circumstances). The conversation starters are also too general and people would respond better to a specific situation. Lastly, there are few ways in which you could easily 'dope,' in this business that are seriously illegal. Drugs aren't necessarily a way out, and things like 'insider information' don't play a role like doping in sports.

2/10

Oct 24, 2012
expenseaccounts:

Mediocre conversation starter at best.

Your essay invents an ethical tension in sports that doesn't exist to that degree (i.e., sports routinely regulate the equipment used as they do substances ingested by athletes, advances in nutritional science don't provide the same edge as banned substances, etc.). The bright line is actually quite distinct. The essay also makes laughable comparisons: drinking coffee/Redbull is not remotely like doping.

Your conversation starter lines are too divorced from the essay (why do we need to sit through a page of hazy rambling about doping in sports to get to where we draw the distinction in completely different circumstances). The conversation starters are also too general and people would respond better to a specific situation. Lastly, there are few ways in which you could easily 'dope,' in this business that are seriously illegal. Drugs aren't necessarily a way out, and things like 'insider information' don't play a role like doping in sports.

2/10

When I apply for an MBA, can you edit my essays?

Oct 23, 2012

This is just me speaking from personal beliefs but I feel as if the Lance Armstrong fraud questions morality than it does just sports and doping.

Somehow I see a parallelism drawn to Batman's Harvey Dent. He cheated, yeah. But he gave inspiration to hundreds of thousands of people struggling from or family members of those with cancer.

Is it always wrong to cover the truth?

Oct 23, 2012

haven't heard it yet but malcom gladwell has some a good take about this on the latest bill simmons podcast

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My Linkedin

Oct 23, 2012

Lance is a millionaire, won all those championships and dominates. No one will give a shit about this in a year and he will still be a millionaire. I love how everyone is fighting each other to invalidate anything this guy did. Maybe his high school should invalidate his diploma now also.

I think Lance maybe or probably did some shit, but this is nothing but a hit piece on him.

Oct 23, 2012
TNA:

Lance is a millionaire, won all those championships and dominates. No one will give a shit about this in a year and he will still be a millionaire. I love how everyone is fighting each other to invalidate anything this guy did. Maybe his high school should invalidate his diploma now also.

I think Lance maybe or probably did some shit, but this is nothing but a hit piece on him.

I'm not sure you've really examined the evidence. We're not talking about "maybe he did some illegal stuff," we're talking about a guy that ran the most successful doping organization in the history of cycling. The evidence is overwhelming.

Yeah, he'll still be rich as hell, but he'll also be remembered as a cheater and a fraud in the worst way.

With that said, something is clearly wrong with the sport when basically EVERYONE in the sport is doping.

Oct 23, 2012

If they were all doping with him why didnt they win 7 tdf themselves? I'm not saying PED's are ok, but his whole team is doing the same thing and he still beat them considerably.

Yes Barry Bonds will have an asterisk, but he was still the best hitter of his era.

You won't be able to mention cycling without Lance Armstrongs name being mentioned, he wins.

Oct 23, 2012

Losers always find ways to blame someone else or tear down winners. Its only "fair" in their minds. Steroids only enhance hard work, they don't make losers champions. If the playing field was truly level Lance would still dominate.

Nothing like a bunch of proven users making Lance out to be this godfather of drugs. Funny how his reputation is destroyed by people who have tested positive, yet Lance hasn't tested positive himself.

Oct 23, 2012

Seriously though, people can't be this naive and think he WAS THE ONLY champion doper in his sport? The guys he went up against were probably on the same shit he was. I remember reading this great interview about track and field performance drug abuse in the Olympics back in the 90s, I mean if it's for a world championship I wouldn't hold back.

Oct 23, 2012

I don't know man, I find it really hard to believe that Lance was this omnipotent master mind. I see a bunch of people who failed drug tests coming together to tear him down. Either way bike racing is rife with drug usage.

I suppose you are right, people will remember Lance as a cheater. As they eat their TV dinners with their high school diplomas, suffering from diabetes, they will cast their scorn on a guy who went all out and won, not to mention overcame cancer.

If I was Lance I wouldn't worry too much what people "think" haha.

Live strong!

Oct 23, 2012

The rules were established in advance of the races. Even if you don't like the rules, they were agreed upon by the participants in advance.

The problem with cycling is that it seems there were virtually no honest competitors which is why they are just erasing those wins and not passing them on to the next guy in line (is my understanding of it).

I don't think a lot of cyclists breaking the rules justifies an individual breaking the rules. Frankly, this feels like a fake debate to me, because I don't see too many people saying Lance was justified. His sponsors certainly don't believe most people buying their products feel that Lance is in the right.

Oct 23, 2012

"laws are like cobwebs: strong enough to detain only the weak, and too weak to hold the strong" - Anacharsis

Oct 23, 2012

Every games has limits. So does the game of finance - insider trading, for example, is a limit. So is conflict of interest.

Oct 23, 2012

My opinion of Lance Armstrong is no different than it was a week ago. Granted, I've never watched more than 5 minutes of those races, but I don't think that doping was the sole factor that contributed to his success. Stripping him of his titles was a little harsh.

Oct 23, 2012

"My opinion of Lance Armstrong is no different than it was a week ago. Granted, I've never watched more than 5 minutes of those races, but I don't think that doping was the sole factor that contributed to his success. Stripping him of his titles was a little harsh."

This

Oct 23, 2012

1) He doped
2) I don't support or excuse that, but
3) his sport is filled with dopers and he kicked the shit out of them. Seven times.

So I don't respect the cheating but the guys still amazing to me.

Oct 23, 2012
Scott Irish:

1) He doped
2) I don't support or excuse that, but
3) his sport is filled with dopers and he kicked the shit out of them. Seven times.

So I don't respect the cheating but the guys still amazing to me.

Well put

Oct 23, 2012

Having a better engineered bike is very fundamentally different than doping.

I think many (if not most) miss the point about why there exist anti doping rules. If doping were allowed, it would become the norm because any athlete not doping would not be able to compete. The practice of doping would spread like wildfire at all levels of sports, including younger athletes (although performance drug use already exists in high school sports). The logic behind doping is that it provides a competitive advantage in training and performance because no one else is doing it. That's what drives athletes to do it now, and it's a small number of athletes who do it. If you allow doping, and all athletes do it, it will have serious implications for sports at all levels. Substantial studies have shown that performance enhancing drugs are detrimental to your health and the longevity of you life. Feel free to read about that here

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/performance-enhan...
By having athletes that are roided up and juiced from head to toe, you promote practices that are harmful to the athletes at all levels, not just the pros.

Oct 23, 2012

Same slippery slope argument used to keep drugs illegal. Free individuals are able to make decisions for their own body. No one is forced to compete.

Lance Armstrong might be remembered as a cheater, but at least he will be remembered. I can't tell you who the 2nd or 3rd place dude is, whether they doped or not.

Oct 23, 2012

-It's a beautiful fall day in the Northeast
-We just had a presidential debate.
-The market is in a bit of a tailspin as earnings news comes out.

Why are we debating a ten year old french bicycle race?

    • 1
Oct 23, 2012

I honestly can say I really don't care about athletes using performance-enhancing drugs in sports. It's not like you take some testosterone and suddenly you are a champion. You still have to work out a ton and dedicate yourself to the sport. It helps you gain and maintain muscle mass, but it's not gonna turn my next door neighbor into Mickey Mantle.

Reality hits you hard, bro...

Oct 24, 2012
MMBinNC:

I honestly can say I really don't care about athletes using performance-enhancing drugs in sports. It's not like you take some testosterone and suddenly you are a champion. You still have to work out a ton and dedicate yourself to the sport. It helps you gain and maintain muscle mass, but it's not gonna turn my next door neighbor into Mickey Mantle.

Due to the nature of cycling, performance enhancing drugs can have a massively profound effect on the level at which an athlete can perform. Obviously these guys are all top athletes, but some of the high-end designer drugs and doping techniques basically turns them into superhumans.

It's not really comparable to the idea of me taking steroids and trying to hit a professional curveball. The very nature of cycling as, essentially, an individual endurance sport makes the drugs more effective. Some of the blood doping stuff that goes on is insane.

For a great example of how powerful doping can be, check out what happened to Floyd Landis the year he "won" the Tour de France. He doped before the final stage and had a time so unbelievable that he overcame what everyone believed was an insurmountable lead to win the title. Only to have it rescinded a short time later when his doping scheme fell apart.

Oct 23, 2012

It's funny, I'll be honest I haven't read the entire thread but I will say this. I'm having problems reconciling the idea that someone who doped, and beat every single other person at the top of the game who doped as well, is being banned and written off from the sport. To my mind, if everyone is cheating which at this point regarding cycling I don't think is a crazy claim, why would you run away from the one person who could beat them 7 times. Yes, I understand he cheated considering the rules in place but if everyone is doing it don't the steroids at some point get canceled out? Am I totally crazy for thinking this?

Oct 24, 2012

If you aren't cheating, your aren't trying.

But seriously, why not make doping legal for everyone, so that it's impossible to cheat.

Oct 24, 2012

If you aren't cheating, your aren't trying.

But seriously, why not make doping legal for everyone, so that it's impossible to cheat.

Oct 24, 2012

If you aren't cheating, your aren't trying.

But seriously, why not make doping legal for everyone, so that it's impossible to cheat.

Oct 24, 2012

If you aren't cheating, your aren't trying.

But seriously, why not make doping legal for everyone, so that it's impossible to cheat.

Oct 24, 2012

If you aren't cheating, your aren't trying.

But seriously, why not make doping legal for everyone, so that it's impossible to cheat.

Oct 24, 2012
BTbanker:

If you aren't cheating, your aren't trying.

But seriously, why not make doping legal for everyone, so that it's impossible to cheat.

Because what about the people who want to compete but don't want to subject themselves to the dangers of doping?

Oct 24, 2012

ANT doesn't troll often, but when he does, he does it well.

Oct 24, 2012

During the early 2000s I doubt you could have finished in the top half of the field without doping.

I would have doped if I was in a similar situation.

Oct 24, 2012
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    • 1
Oct 24, 2012
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Reality hits you hard, bro...