To be fair, not too many of us are forced to make serious moral choices in our lives. Well, of course, except in the field of sexual temptation which, happily at the age of 73, I personally am now well past. Actually, now I understand the immense relief in the tone of the late Malcolm Muggeridge (a noted swordsman in his day) when, as an older man, he admitted that lack of a sexual drive was like having a weight lifted from his shoulders - or perhaps he said 'elbows', I don't recall! Anyway, that aside, most of us are not often forced into moral decisions - except perhaps, sportsmen.
The world and his uncle are waiting to lay into Mr. Lance Armstrong, the well-known 'pedalist', once his mea culpa is broadcast by that contemporary High Priestess of Public Morals Mores, Ms. Oprah Winfrey. There is something particularly reprehensible in cheating in that sort of sport which is, mostly, an individual competition between individuals. I am still sickened by the loss of (relative) purity in the Olympic Games track events whose winners were heroes to me in my innocent boyhood. But they at least only enjoyed a brief hour in the sunlight of adulation but Mr. Armstrong has had half of his life basking in the praise for his apparent 'achievements'. What, I wonder, was he thinking during those years as he accepted honours and kudos for his incredible - literally incredible as we now learn - series of victory after victory after victory? Was he ashamed, I wonder, or did he simply gaze out at the sea of adoring fans and think to himself, "Suckers!"
The interesting post-script to this bounder's life of lies will come, for me, during the subsequent court hearings if and when all those giant American corporations who once poured money over him in the form of endorsements now sue to get it back. Were I the judge I would show them little mercy. For the last thirty years (at least) no individual sport has been above suspicion of drug cheating and, as these self-same corporations, or their lawyers, would quickly point out to any wronged punter who sued them - caveat emptor! So, what goes for 'Joe Doe' goes for the likes of Nike et al!
Another brand of cheating is more nuanced. Just recently - well, almost every week these days - some footballer either surreptitiously uses his hand to guide the ball into the net, or, in the penalty area a defender passes within six inches at which point the attacker falls over - and over - and over - as though he had been hit by a truck and lies crying on the ground holding his leg which appears from his performance to have been broken in several places. However, having been given a penalty by a ref who should have gone to SpecSavers he makes a remarkable recovery and within seconds is racing up and down the field once again. There are motives for this type of cheating - a desire to help your team win and, perhaps a certain amount of money in the form of a win bonus. However, given the eye-wateringly huge salaries paid as a norm, the win bonus is relatively small beer. Perhaps part of the motivation to cheat lies exactly in those huge salaries such that the player feels it is only fair - delicious irony - to do whatever it takes to make sure his employers get the result they are paying him for.
Happily, never having taken part in 'games' since I was sixteen, my sporting morals have never been tested. However, if any multi-zillionaire footie-player requires coaching in the art of acting, of course, darling, I am available at a very modest fee - well, modest compared to you, you big, useless, over-paid, cheating, waste of space! (Jealous? Moi? Certainly not!)