Merepeka Raukawa-Tait: Shame game for cheating athlete

By Merepeka Raukawa-Tait

I've never been one for sport. Odd isn't it. In a country like New Zealand everyone is more or less expected to be sports mad.

If not into all sports then at least one or two. I've had fleeting affairs with swimming and jogging, more like waddling really, but never anything that would require time and effort spent in training. Yet I do admire those people who decide a sporting career is what they want to pursue.

To achieve excellence and be the best in any field whether business, academia, farming, medicine or sport takes years of commitment, trial and error. What we see on our TV screens is the result of all those years of practice, dedication and I suspect a good deal of pain and suffering as well.

It's never just showing up on the day or the result of being on form for one or two hours that makes a champion. It's having the intestinal fortitude to stay focussed on the long term goal for years.

To be the best these sports men and women remain absolutely determined. While others are enjoying themselves with family and friends they are out doing the hard yards. They have to because someone else will be out there, somewhere, doing exactly the same.

As children, we were told that cheats and liars never prosper. On the playing field and in class at school you just didn't cheat. If you did and were caught the stigma never left you. We all wanted to get good marks and believed there was a level playing field, so cheating was being dishonest. It was taken seriously. As for cheating at sports this was a definite no no.

Now it's no longer unusual to hear of top sports men and women getting caught out cheating. Drugs are conquering that arena as well. Everything they worked so hard to achieve lost. Win at any cost must have been too hard to avoid.

Yet the cost is immense. Look at Lance Armstrong. After years of denying taking performance enhancing drugs and challenging and suing anyone who suggested otherwise, he has finally come clean. He cheated and lied about it for years.

His unsporting behaviour has affected so many people. His own reputation is now in tatters. International cycling itself has taken a battering. How was he able to get away with it for so long? And who else might be involved? Armstrong must have had help. Who supplied him and covered up for him? Their names haven't yet been revealed.

Cycling fans around the world feel betrayed by someone they looked up to and promoters, backers and advertisers are livid. They're after Armstrong's blood which will possibly amount to millions of dollars. He has shamed his own family and closest friends. Those who loved him and cared about him over the years.

There is always a cost when someone crosses the line between winning fair and square and cheating. Armstrong had ample opportunity to stop at any time, yet never did. Didn't he ever once think about his own family?

Their feelings of being horribly let down must be devastating. Armstrong has lost everything. There will be no comeback for him because his fame and fortune was achieved dishonestly. He never applied the same exacting high standards of training required of a top international cyclist to his character.

He has as much character and charisma now as a dirty diaper.


- Rotorua Daily Post

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