Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Kicking Back == Hypocrisy?

So as a backdrop for this whole story are the recent (re)accusations of Lance Armstrong (this time) by the USADA for doping.

Before I make my primary observation, here are some background opinions on the whole thing to set the stage.

  1. I believe the USADA has a useful overall function in keeping young, amateur, developing athletes away from medication that will ultimately hurt them.
  2. I believe that the CEO of the USADA, Travis Tygart, is wrong to go after Lance Armstrong. I will expand on why in a later post tentatively titled "Ahab and his Whale."
  3. I believe Lance Armstrong is a "clean" rider, yet recognize the mounting amount of what I would consider circumstantial evidence to the contrary.
  4. I have spent much of my youth, and all of my adult life trying to stop cheating inside soccer fields across the US and internationally on a more limited basis.
Now ... come in the wayback machine with me to 1986 in Mexico. Anyone recall this:

As a young referee with aspirations of becoming FIFA, I was furious. How could such cheating be left without being punished? How could someone who claimed to have respect for The Game cheat so blatantly?

How dare they!!

I instantly became an anti-fan of Diego Maradona, and while I have tremendous respect for his ability, I personally do not believe he has any respect for The Game at all, and should be punished as a cheater, when he demonstrated such.

Now, enter Lance, and his current controversy. I have to be honest, I don't feel the same way ... even if there is a "smoking gun" of evidence found showing he doped during his (7) Tour victories.

I had to stop for a second and really think about why that was. Why isn't a cheater (like Maradona) a cheater (like Armstrong)?

Was it that Maradona's multitude of incidents was just so off the reservation that put me to a point of no return? If true, why didn't Lance doping for (7) years get me to the same place?

Is it that Maradona has not made much of an appearance on the charity circuit as opposed to Armstrong's notable Livestrong Foundation? Not sure if that is true either as Maradona has done charity work for UNICEF, as well as a variety of other causes.

So what is it?

As scary as this might seem, I think for me it comes down to likability. While I have not met (for any length of time) either man, I just like Lance better than Diego.

One is a cheater, and one may soon be proven to be one which theoretically makes them equivalent.

In the eyes of a referee, they should be punished the same as we are not in the business of determining why a player did what they did, but rather responding to the actions they took.

There are always nuances and extraordinary factors to be sure. Do we think however that a player received a caution because you "knew they were going to be trouble", not by what they actually did? Or the opposite of "she's really nice most of the time", so was not sent off today.

It's hard to drop a bias and be completely objective, if that is even possible. As a referee however, we have to dump the baggage, and act on what we see.

As sad as that is to me, Diego and Lance would be one in the same, if Lance is found to have doped.

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