Armstrong joins parade of elite cheats

Chris Hayes wrote a book last year based upon a single question: If we have such elite and talented people earning so much money and exercising so much power, why are things so screwed up?

He spent the rest of his book attempting to explain why our most richly rewarded people keep letting us down.

Last week Lance Armstrong fully joined the long list of sports, business and political leaders who have sorely disappointed the nation.

Armstrong was an American elite who clawed his way out of Texas to the pinnacle of his sport, then successfully crossed the Rubicon into the celebrity world of personal jets and $10 million estates.

Hayes argues in his book that elites in sports, business or other competitive fields come to share a similar outlook.

They are so richly rewarded and lavishly praised that they believe they are above the rules governing the behavior of other mortals. Winning at any cost is their singular goal.

They always believe the phrase "everyone is cheating" justifies their cheating and is necessary to "level the playing field."

When elites break the rules they are not usually punished like bank robbers and drug dealers. They most often remain wealthy and sometimes return to their former positions and status. 

Elite cheaters are also good at attracting other cheaters who willingly help cover their tracks.

Elite cheaters are also enabled by a fawning media that loves a winner and a winner's story.

For those who say doping levels the playing field, former cyclist (and less successful doper) Tyler Hamilton argues the opposite in his book "The Secret Race."

The wealthiest cheaters can hire the best doctors and chemists. Armstrong was able to use his private jet to transport drugs and hire his gardener to deliver them posing as a motorcyclist and fan.

Doping also tends not to reward the best cyclist, but the one with the most flexible value system and greatest tolerance for risk.

What's more, poorer teams and cyclists simply cannot assemble the large cast of characters necessary to carry off the corporate sort of cheating that characterized the Armstrong machine.

Armstrong is a cool and calculating cheater, and he certainly had his motives for granting a softball interview to Oprah.

He has now entered the elaborate reinvention process that superstars follow to win their way back into the money and glory. 

They are rarely so ashamed of their behavior that they slink into obscurity like ordinary people who feel guilt, remorse and embarrassment.

Before we feel sympathy, we should remember that Armstrong lied right up until there was no alternative but to tell the truth.

The master liar again and again looked into the TV cameras and insisted he never doped was finally cornered and out of escape routes.

It took years of effort to do it, and Armstrong continually trashed and threatened those bold enough to challenge him, but the weight of the evidence was finally overwhelming, even for a world-class denier.

His story is a bitter disappointment for the millions of people who once respected the man.

It also leaves us a bit more jaded about the elites we look to for inspiration and leadership.

rrhoades@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Steve  Dosh's picture

Armstrong joins parade of elite cheats

Rex , et. al., Sunday 15:35 ?
Ayuh ? True •  Good and valid points all . ...
You have to pity him on some level . He's like the N B A . No Balls @ All .
Go Pats !
We need new heros & heroines . We nominate Colin Powell , Pokémon's Pikachu , Sponge Bob , and Billery [ sic. ] . /s , Steve , survivor :)
http://www.livestrong.org <- not necessarily an endorsement

Amedeo Lauria's picture

They only have the "power"...

we elect to give them.

Of course it's screwed up!

Do people who work in the entertainment industry or in major league sports really know more about ANYTHING than the average person on the street regarding politics and economics; this is certainly not my opinion.

I was watching a television program about herd animals; 10,000 drowned in Africa because they followed the lead animal into a dangerous situtation; crossing a river in a bad place; they got in fine, getting out was another story. They just couldn't help following the herd!

I hope this is not an analogy for the way most Americans think today.

We started this country as "We the People" not as a bunch of poll watchers and idol worshippers. We need to get back to our roots.

The face of corporate cheating ...another one

Madoff, Abramoff, Armstrong ....no diff.

They were / are still ...loved by their enablers ...the wealthy gamblers ...and their corporate media bullhorns and magicians.

They can't break the rules ...because, by default, they default to the "might makes right" justification for their "end justifies the means" mentality...and the "end" is making money for themselves even if doing so means breaking the rules they hypocritically insist everyone else follows. Rules?

Rules are for everyone else ...and they have the lawmakers, police, prosecutors and courts on their payroll, figuratively speaking, for added insurance.

If the common folk take their noses out of their "Nascar", "American Idol" and other "porn", per chance, and get upset by the obviousness of the corporate bank and insurance industry's theft of the American taxpayer and treasury, they throw us a "Madoff" or "Abramoff" bone to chew on to distract us from the whole bin of bad apples from which they came. .... all of them, generally speaking, are rotten to the core.

All of them, doped up and cheating, and addicted to more.

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