cheating No Comments

The United States Anti-Doping Agency erased 14 years of Lance Armstrong’s career in August.  They vacated his record seven Tour de France titles–and banned him for life from the sport that made him famous. The agency concluded Armstrong had used banned substances that enhanced his performance.  In short, he cheated.
Armstrong said he would no longer challenge the USADA and declined to exercise his last option by entering arbitration.  He continues to deny that he ever took banned substances.  However, he is now officially a drug cheat in the eyes of the nations doping agency.  (Jim Vertuno, Lance Armstrong banned for life, career vacated, Associated Press, Aug. 24, 2012).
Recently, many of the sponsors of Armstrong have withdrawn their support and he has stepped down from the Lance Armstrong Foundation (also known as Livestrong) which has raised nearly $500 million for cancer research since 1997.  Armstrong began the foundation in 1997 after battling testicular cancer.
This story is profoundly sad for many reasons.  First, cheating to win only results in great loss.  It is easy to understand the motives for cheating.  The prestige and fame, the money and celebrity status are enticements to break the rules.  Many have succumbed to these temptations.  However, the pain experienced from exposure of the scandal is severe.  Instead of great gain there is great loss.  “Career vacated!”–no advantage gained.
Second, anyone who cheats, cheats themselves.  “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold” (Proverbs 22:1).  Character counts!  Integrity is a valuable quality of the human heart.  Third, self-deception is the easiest form of deception.  A cheater never thinks he/she will get caught.  The deceptive aspect of sin is that we can do it and get by with it.  Moses wrote, “But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).  Most often the exposure of sin comes from other men.  The things we do in secret are made public and become headlines.  But, the real exposure of sin is before the LORD.  “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:13).  Exposure of sin is beneficial.  The confrontation forces us to deal with it.  Some choose to deny rather than confess.  But, confession is good for the soul.  It is the beginning step of honesty with ourselves that can lead to honesty before God.  Facing the truth about ourselves is never easy.  But, it has the potential for repentance and renewal.  Lance Armstrong needs a new beginning.  We all do.  The new starting place is in Christ (II Cor. 5:17).

Postscript:  On Monday (Oct. 22), the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) announced that it is standing behind a report previously published by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) alleging that seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong oversaw the most sophisticated doping program in the history of the sport.  The USADA released nearly 1,000 pages of evidence–including testimony from 15 former teammates–that pointed to Armstrong’s use of performance enhancing drugs.
What is the cost?  Armstrong has lost his credibility and integrity.  He has been forced to step down as chairman of the Livestrong Foundation.  He has reduced his future earning capacity to nearly zero. He will have to repay millions of dollars ($5 million or more) in bonuses from Tour officials.  Sponsors have withdrawn their support and the result is a loss of millions more.  Also, there is a tax situation that results from all of this.  The crash-landing is a tremendous fall from grace.  The fall from the greatest cyclist in the sport to the biggest fraud in the history of the sport.  (see Tony Nitti, “The Potential Tax Implications of Lance Armstrong’s Banishment From Cycling,” Yahoo Finance, Oct. 23, 2012).  In the face of such tremendous loss, there is a need for great grace.  That grace can only be found in Christ (Eph. 2:8-9).