The practice of healthy competition amongst rising athletes is usually a source of excitement for the average sports enthusiast. However, as the stakes in athletic competition increase on a global scale, participants are pressured to compromise honesty in the face of a growing culture that suggests that performance enhancing drugs are required to succeed.
Guest lecturer for Delta Gamma’s “Lecture on Value and Ethics,” Travis Tygart, firmly disagrees with this mentality, speaking out against those that abuse the system and abide by the “unwritten rules” that favor doping to enhance performance.
Tygart states that “there should never be a rule that penalizes those that follow the rule,” and as the CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, attempts daily to uphold this rule.
The mission of the USADA is to “preserve the integrity of competition,” and to keep the athletic playing field even. He further discusses this point through the most powerful case that the USADA has received yet, the case of Lance Armstrong, and his use of EPO, testosterone and blood doping practices. Armstrong has since been found guilty of these charges through the efforts of the USADA, and as Tygart says, “held accountable for his actions.”
Tygart’s fight against Armstrong has been difficult at times, shown through death threats, and the hateful response of the public through social media, but Tygart stayed strong throughout the investigation, stating that he “had faith in the process.”
Tygart acknowledges the fact that our culture supports this kind of dishonesty in competition and the bar has continued to be raised, with many other competitors around the world choosing the easy way out by taking the drugs that many doctors and coaches encourage them to take. However, Tygart advocates taking responsibility for one’s actions.
“Athletes have a huge impact on children and sports fans,” Tygart said. He asserts that this impact causes the general public to view drugs differently, and cause a “cascade effect” in athletic competition starting with professional competition and going all the way down to child athletes who might follow this example.
Tygart closed his lecture with the advice to SMU students that everyone should always prepare for the first time that they are tempted to take this culturally endorsed way out of honest competition, and resist the temptation because “competing fair wins.”