The Lance Armstrong doping scandal has rocked cycling and the world of sport to its foundations. Armstrong’s calculated, methodical use of EPO and other banned performance enhancing substances during his cycling career has destroyed his reputation and tarnished the Tour De France forever.
The appalling behavior of greedy individuals across all sports is just a side effect of the professionalization of sport where the potential financial gain vastly outweigh any sense of fair play or honor.
The combination of ludicrous sponsorship deals, (just this week Rory McIlroy signed a $250 million sponsorship deal with Nike) outrageously high salaries, sport’s betting and endless commercialization have in effect ruined sport.
The salacious details of the Armstrong cover up continue to emerge but there is little doubt that it is the greatest scandal to hit the world sport in a generation.
The stakes in professional sport are too great and the pressure to perform is too intense in a commercial media driven world.
Whether it be cricketers purposefully bowling no-balls to manipulate betting markets, Spanish basketballers faking disability to win gold at the Paralympics or ice skaters arrange for competitors to be taken out with a crow bar where fame and fortune is on offer cheating, corruption, doping and sometimes violence follow.
Can this tangled web be undone?
Of course not. There is too much at stake for too many parties but surely as the ripples from the Armstrong affair continue roll across the world surely there is pause for thought about what can be done to address the continued decline of sport into the abyss of commercialism and deceit.
Your thoughts are appreciated!