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Fix the fix on sports

A slew of sports scandals should serve as a reminder that character counts in athletic competition.

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The summer is shaping up as a record breaker in the wide world of sports – one more likely to disappoint than please. Allegations of cheating and criminal behavior abound, from the baseball diamond to the basketball court. It's time to remember that sport is about character, not bad characters.

The parade of high-profile individuals suspected of unfair play and illegal activities seems to be zipping by with the speed of cyclists in the Tour de France. There, a string of top-ranked pedalers, including leader Michael Rasmussen, has been thrown out of this year's event for suspicions related to doping.

Back in the United States, NFL star quarterback Michael Vick has been indicted for alleged involvement in a cruel – and illegal – dog-fighting ring. The FBI, meanwhile, is investigating a professional basketball referee for betting on NBA games. And then there's the old story of home-run-hammer Barry Bonds, renewed this week as he approached baseball's most hallowed record – allegedly with the help of steroids along the way.

There's a reason that character counts in sport. Without honesty, without a pure pursuit of skill, there is no level playing field on which to compete. What's the point of playoffs, for instance, if the fix is already in? What's the point of the world's greatest bicycle race if it's a contest of performance-enhancers instead of performers?

Society looks to athletes as role models, but to a great extent, sport mirrors society. So it's perhaps no surprise that a hip-hop culture that equates pit-bull viciousness with manhood coincides with a football hero supposedly caught up in an inhumane business of pit-bull fights.

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