There was a line early in Dean Karnazes’s Ultramarathon Man in which Karnazes suggests that no one in the ultramarathon sport would ever cheat–no one would take epo or shoot steroids, no one would cut the course–because (at least at the time) there was no real money on the line, and therefore no incentive to cheat. In Born To Run, Christopher McDougall makes a similar assertion about the purity of the sport. These suggestions always stuck in my craw. For many people, winning is motive enough to cheat, and they will go to great length and great expense to do so. I would even posit that for many professional athletes who cheat, it’s winning that is the true motive, and the money is an ancillary benefit. I have no expertise here, beyond knowing a few chronic cheaters. Lots of people argue my point because, they say, there’s no sense of achievement in winning by cheating–the cheater always knows that win wasn’t real. My sense is, and I can’t explain it, to the kind of person who is motivate to cheat (and here I mean really cheat, and invest in it) there is no difference.
On that note, please read this fantastic New Yorker article about Kip Litton, the conniving runner who built a career of cheating at marathons, and the amateur sleuths who figured him out.
(article by Mark Singer; h/t to Doogie Horner at KGB Yard Sale for the link)