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Athletes’ Dilemma- Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong’s use of performance enhancing drugs has raised many ethical questions to the sport of cycling. The article discusses about whether or not Lance Armstrong’s use of such drugs is worth all of the punishment, as “the stakes are simply too high for [the athletes] to be rational not to cheat.” Considering that most professional cyclists are known to use performance enhancing drugs, Lance Armstrong has won championships without much advantage. The issue is especially controversial due to his image as the inspirational figure who survived through many adversities to achieve the ultimate success. The controversies brought up by this article point to a bigger problem about the sport and the administration (in this case, USDA). The weak implementation and enforcing of its rules on performance enhancing drugs has resulted in widespread use of illegal drugs and ruined the idea of fairness within the sport.

This article is a perfect example of game theory-arms race. One individual athlete’s decision to have unfair advantage over others has snowballed into coercing everyone to use performance enhancing drugs not to perform better than others, but rather to stay on the same level of competition. This example can also be displayed in a form of Nash Equilibrium, similar to the Prisoner’s dilemma. In the Nash Equilibrium of this example, if the two players/groups are an individual athlete and everyone else, the two choices for them would be either to take performance enhancing drugs or to not take any. For simplicity, 1 point will be given if either of the players chooses to take performance enhancing drugs, and 0 will be given otherwise. The Nash Equilibrium can result in two situations. One is when both players choose to take performance enhancing drugs (1,1), and the other is when neither chooses to do so (0,0). It seems like the sport of cycling, like many other sports, has unfortunately reached its Nash Equilibrium of (1,1), in addition to bringing negative consequences to athletes’ health.


http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/08/but-everybodys-doing-it-lance-armstrong-and-the-philosophy-of-making-bad-decisions/261669/

-acccc

Comments

2 Responses to “ Athletes’ Dilemma- Lance Armstrong ”

  • Erik

    Riders who have actually failed tests, such as Contador are still competing at the highest level, including the winner of the London Olympic Road Race.

    So why this need to ‘get’ Armstrong – who has never, ever failed a test?

    What will this achieve, at a time when cycling has substantially cleaned up its act – all this will do will be to to cast the sport in a bad light in the eyes of the public. Crucifying Arrmstrong won’t achieve anything. Why not pick on any past champion of cycling, and collate evidence, hearsay and rumour against them?

    Perhaps we could have blank record books, that say no-one has ever won anything?

    This is a witchhunt – why not direct resources to continuing to make cycling clean for now and the future instead of continuing past vendettas?

  • acccc

    Hello,
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on my blog post.
    I would first like to point out that for the most part, I was merely reporting the points from an article I found on the internet, and relating it to the topics I learned in class.
    For me to respond to your points would simply result in me defending the author of the original article’s points, and I believe that it may be more suitable for your comment to be placed under the comment section of the original article, where it will be open to more diverse range of responses since many users have already expressed their opinions there.
    However, if you are interested in my personal thoughts on the issues that you have presented, feel free to message me.
    Thanks,
    acccc

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