Friday, October 12, 2012

Reputations in tatters

The flood of allegations made against Jimmy Saville is staggering. We are now told that he was given carte blanche access to young girls in several hospitals, children’s homes, even at the BBC and nobody in authority thought anything of it. The enormous amounts of money he raised for charity for these institutions seems to have blinded their eyes to what may have been going on. They gave him freedom of access, office space, bedrooms and even keys to the wards.

Even still, it is hard to imagine how he could have got away with his alleged predatory behaviour for so long without at least one authority taking action. There was either a massive conspiracy to cover up what was taking place or the people in charge were in complete denial.

Now we are told about the cover up that allowed Lance Armstrong to win seven Tour de France titles.

In  its 1,000 page report, Usada says it has "found proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Lance Armstrong engaged in serial cheating through the use, administration and trafficking of performance-enhancing drugs and methods that Armstrong participated in running in the US Postal Service Team as a doping conspiracy".

It added that his goal of winning the Tour de France multiple times "led him to depend on EPO, testosterone and blood transfusions but also, more ruthlessly, to expect and to require that his team-mates would likewise use drugs to support his goals if not their own".

It continued: "It was not enough that his team-mates give maximum effort on the bike, he also required that they adhere to the doping programme outlined for them or be replaced.

"He was not just a part of the doping culture on his team, he enforced and re-enforced it. Armstrong's use of drugs was extensive and the doping programme on his team, designed in large part to benefit Armstrong, was massive and pervasive.

"Armstrong and his co-conspirators sought to achieve their ambitions through a massive fraud now more fully exposed. So ends one of the most sordid chapters in sports history."

There is a remarkable similarity in elements of both stories. Both men were philanthropic in that they raised millions to help their supported causes. Does that make their behaviour acceptable? In the case of Saville, the jury is clear that it did not but in the case of Armstrong things could be different. It seems there are some who are willing to forgive him of his doping practices and even to deny that they took place.

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