Lance Armstrong's doping confession in an interview with Oprah Winfrey should draw outrage, but so should any drug use – including marijuana – by sports stars.
George Burns/Harpo Studios, Inc/Reuters
Lance Armstrong’s admission of steroid use in an interview with Oprah Winfrey reminds us of another apology by a superathlete for drug use. It is not Mark McGwire in pro baseball or Marion Jones in Olympic track, both of whom famously admitted using drugs as performance enhancers.
It is Michael Phelps. After winning eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games, he fessed up to smoking marijuana.
His admission – for what seemed like casual use of pot at the time – hardly drew the same public outrage as now befits the cheating by Mr. Armstrong in the Tour de France cycling races. But it should have.
Both athletes set a bad example for younger athletes, many of whom are tempted to use any drug if they believe that talent, hard work, and mental determination will not be sufficient to succeed in a sport.
Some athletes use steroids for strength or to bulk up while others turn to pot in hopes of reducing stress and fear before competition or to numb pain. With either drug, the moral offense lies in diminishing the very idea of sport as a contest of merit and fair play. By definition, sport is manipulation of one’s body. But that presumably should be done largely by mental means and training.
No wonder no pro baseball player was elected to the Hall of Fame this year. Who can say which player relied on steroids to break records after the practice become so prevalent in recent decades?