As I write, Lance Armstrong’s two-part confessional interview with Oprah Winfrey is being broadcast. If you’ve watched this you probably know more details than I do right now, but one thing is clear: Lance Armstrong cheated and lied and he is paying a heavy price for it.
It is not my intention to join the chorus of people condemning him. There are too many of them and I really don’t know enough about cycling, doping or Lance Armstrong to contribute anything new or interesting. Instead, I think we should challenge ourselves to consider how Lance got to the sad place he is today and ask ourselves, “Could that happen to me?”
Even if you aren’t a world-class athlete on the international stage, you still have the temptation to cheat. For Lance Armstrong, cheating was the path to rolling in triumph through the streets of Paris and multi-million dollar contracts. For us, it may seem to be the easy way to get on the leaderboard and win accolades from our fellow CrossFitters.
It is important to note that cheaters, while they understand that they are breaking rules, rarely recognize that what they are doing is actually wrong. Lance Armstrong said he actually looked up the word “cheat” and found “the definition is to gain an advantage on a rival or foe. I didn’t view it that way. I viewed it as a level playing field.”
I believe him. His rationalization probably went something like this: “Everyone else is doing the same thing. Doping is not really cheating. I’m not taking a shortcut or letting the air out of the other guy’s tires. I’m just doing what it takes to win.”
Consider how many opportunities you have to give yourself an advantage in your daily WODs. Nobody counts your reps for you. Coaches can’t verify the range of motion on every repetition. It’s up to you to keep yourself honest.
Integrity is, among other things, behaving in a way that will not lead to shame or remorse. Even though you aren’t racing in the Tour de France, cheating can be just as damaging to our souls as it was to Lance’s. Let’s commit ourselves to avoiding it in all its forms.
There is a saying that has been around CrossFit for years. It goes “Nobody cares if you win. Everybody cares if you cheat.”