“If money is big enough, why not?” was the response to a 60-minutes investigator who asked Stefano Varjas, an inventor from Budapest, Hungary, about whether he would sell his invention, a motorized bicycle accessory, to clients who intended to cheat in bike races. (Click here for the segment entitled “Enhancing the Bike” aired 1/29/17.)
The investigator was specifically talking about racers of the Tour de France. And while Varjas would not say if he directly sold the motor to athletes directly, he said cannot say what his clients do with his motor. He also said he knew racers had used it and he participated in investigations of athletes in both the Tour de France and the Olympics. According to the segment, the first time someone was suspected of using a motorized bike was in 2010; it wasn’t until 2016 that a Belgian female rider was caught and suspended for using the motor in a race.
And Pop Goes The Weasel. My illusions about the Tour de France, a race I had the good fortune to see in person when I lived in Paris many years ago, have disintegrated into dust. Not that my opinion of the race was high to begin with after all the doping scandals became public, but the sport has degenerated to a new low with this latest scandal.
The segment just proves that racers will do anything to win a prestigious event like the Tour de France or the Olympics, including cheat and destroy reputation not just for themselves but for their entire sport and all who participate in it.
It is not just racers, though, who will do anything to win, to earn the highest profit, to take home the highest salary, to be the king or queen of the hill, so to speak. Executives, professional athletes and news reporters all have had their 10 minutes of infamy and I suspect all of us humans have a skeleton or two in the closet that we would not wish to be revealed about things we’ve done to get ahead in our lives.
What has happened to the spirit of fair play, of sportsmanship, of ethical conduct? Is this what we want to teach our children and our successors in business? Are we prepared for the consequences, and is this truly the legacy we want to leave future generations? It troubles me to watch the lengths to which some people will go for a gold medal. I guess my ultimate question is this: how does someone justify their behavior when they know in their heart of hearts that they cheated?