Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Biting Back: Integrity must be the name of the game in sport

Telegraph Sport: where the debate really gets started

BOULDER COUNTY, CO - AUGUST 25: A young fan holds a sign in support of Lance Armstrong as watches stage six of the USA Pro Challenge from Golden to Boulder on August 25, 2012 in Boulder County, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Once, in a pub quiz, I was on a team faced with a tie-break question for a bottle of champagne. Norman Whiteside was aged 17 years and how many days when he became the youngest World Cup Finals player in 1982?

Right away, I texted him, from under the table, and back came the reply: ‘41 days.. and there must be a drink in it for you!'

Was it cheating? Of course. Why did I do it? Because I could. No danger of being caught and no deterrent.

Pub quizzes and proper sport are poles apart but where cheating is concerned, be it diving for a penalty or using performance enhancing drugs, the principles are the same. We all have boundaries.

Take away the temptation and wherewithal, replace it with the certainty of discovery, loss of face and punishment, then integrity becomes the name of the game.

Step forward Travis Tygart of the US Anti-Doping Agency, a hitherto unknown figure, now being hailed as the Eliot Ness of sport for his quiet yet relentless pursuit of the unclean, resulting in the high profile unmasking and shaming of Lance Armstrong and Marion Jones.

Applying the age-old detective mantra of Means, Motive and Opportunity to trap their targets, Tygart and his team have emerged as sport's modern day equivalent of Ness and his Untouchables in Prohibition Chicago.

Their message is: you can run but you can't hide it. However clever your chemists or however sharp your legal teams, the court of truth will rule against you.

Go Travis! His influence on sport and our trust in its outcomes will be immense.

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