The Olympic games are the Nobel Prizes of sports and athletics. They are the ultimate aspiration of individuals and states. While success and achievement are elements in both, integrity is probably the most important element. How one reaches the high bar is far more important than the crown itself.
As with every sphere of life, Olympic athletes too have to make difficult choices, especially where gray overlaps black and white. This is quite often referred to as moral dilemma.
It was reported yesterday, that South African 100 metres breaststroke Gold medalist Cameron van der Burgh confessed to cheating in taking three underwater dolphin kicks when only one is allowed. His explanation, or excuse, or even rationale is that everyone is doing it. “Everyone’s pushing the rules and pushing the boundaries”, he said, “so if you’re not doing it, you’re not trying hard enough”.
“Trying hard” takes a completely new meaning here, to include bending the rules, or cheating. The expression “the end justifies the means” is all too familiar. Cameron van der Burgh expressed the dilemma this way: “It’s not…the moral thing to do, but I’m not willing to sacrifice my personal performance and four years of hard work for someone that is willing to do it and get away with it”.
So, there are two issues: One of “sacrifice” for the sake of integrity and the second, “getting away with” lack of integrity.
How would you react to this? Comments and suggestions are welcome.