Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Olympic Cheaters Should Lose Their Medals

Photo of Cameron van der Burgh from Supersport.com
I mean, it seems only logical to me to take away someone's gold medal if they have been caught cheating and even admit to it. Cameron van der Burgh intentionally broke the rules of his swimming competition. He admits to breaking them. Case closed!

However, it looks like Mr. van der Burgh may keep his gold even though it's being reported that he admits that he cheated to get it. Here's what NBC.com has to say:
Men’s 100m breaststroke winner Cameron van der Burgh has admitted to cheating during his victory at the Olympics, which came in world-record time.
In breaststroke, competitors are allowed to take one dolphin kick at the start and one after each turn before starting their breaststroke kick. But with no underwater video judging, swimmers are sometimes able to sneak in an extra dolphin kick – a whip-like motion generated from the hips.
Video replays appear to show van der Burgh taking three of them.
Van der Burgh, who is from South Africa, spoke to the Sydney Morning Herald and admitted to breaking the rules. He also said other swimmers employ the same tactic.
And now for the olympian's ultimate rationalization for cheating:
“If you’re not doing it, you’re falling behind,” Van der Burgh told the paper. “It’s not obviously - shall we say - 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.
This logic is lame. Pure rationalization. Nothing more and nothing less. He's basically saying: "If others are going to cheat then I'm going to cheat."

The article concludes that the IOC is probably not going to sanction him for cheating. In that case, it's no wonder that everyone doesn't cheat. I guess he'll always have to live by the memory that his gold medal is tainted, as is his world record...that's the price that cheaters pay.

Cheaters will never know the truth. In this case, the question remains as to who really earned the gold medal. Or, assuming USADA's evidence showing Lance Armstrong doped is solid (in case you don't buy all that's been shown on 60 Minutes and elsewhere), the unanswerable question will be: who earned the yellow jerseys that Lance took home? If Lance cheated, he will never know if he could have earned one yellow jersey without doping. It may not be a huge deal to him today, but I believe someday the truth will mean something to him. Maybe not in this life but someday...

Back to van der Burgh, would he have won if he didn't take extra dolphin kicks? Would he have the world record? He will never know. Sadly, if he wouldn't have, the person who would have won, without cheating, will also never know. Unfortunately, that is the price that competitors pay when someone cheats. Of the two prices, the competitors pay the bigger one...

And that is why cheating in sports or business or government or in life in general should not be tolerated. If I was on the IOC, he would have lost his medal days ago. His name would be nowhere in the record books unless it lists those who cheated...I know it sounds harsh but Mr. van der Burgh would be welcomed back to race without cheating but anything he was awarded while cheating must be rescinded.


  1. "I guess he'll always have to live by the memory that his gold medal is tainted, as is his world record...that's the price that cheaters pay."

    Firstly, I enjoy your blog. Keep up the good work.

    Secondly, however, your statement above leads us in the direction of the misalignment that exists b/w the need to deter athletes from cheating, and what actually works.

    Van der Burg WON'T have difficulty sleeping at night and he's NOT going to feel dirty about having won the gold, b/c he clearly doesn't believe (or feel) that he did anything wrong - in his mind, "everyone" in w/ a chance at medaling is doing it and to not play the dolphin 3x would be the most self-defeating, foolish thing out there...

    So the question you need to ask is WHAT will deter the next CvdB from taking advantage of the system and breaking the rules w/o a moment's hesitation, if he doesn't think he's going to be caught?...


    (note: I'm suggesting a column on deterrence, given the regrettable fact that often times, especially in a situation like this, cheating athletes don't give a fck about having ethical nightmares 10 years after winning - b/c if they did, they wouldn't be cheating in the first place! Although credit CvdB for at least owning up to it. Though even THEN it's not exactly a good sign, b/c it's clear he doesn't think it was cheating! Hence no hesitation to discuss! lol. oyoyoyoy!)

  2. I agree that he won't have trouble sleeping at night but his character will definitely have some holes in it. Of course, that isn't going to deter him from cheating or anyone else for that matter.

    To deter cheating in this event, I suppose we need better mechanisms to catch them and then real consequences when they are caught. Underwater cameras watching their every move might help. Then, anyone cheating should be DQ'd.

    Or, if everyone takes two or three dolphin kicks, why not just make it legal?! Maybe that would mess up the record books. If that's a concern, it seems like the record books are already a mess...

    What are your thoughts on how to deter?

  3. "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.”
    In other words, "a win trumps my integrity any day."

    Until parents start teaching their kids that 'means' are just as important as 'ends' there will always be cheating, and no system you impose will stop it.