BOSTON (CBS) – Here’s a provocative question to ask yourself this morning – do we really care about following the rules? Do we really think cheating is wrong?
And if we do, what consequences do we think there should be for those who cheat?
The question comes up because of this week’s announcement by the International Olympic Committee that the Russians are banned from competing in next year’s winter games because of their government’s systematic violations of anti-doping rules.
But when you look closely at what the IOC has done, it looks more like a slap on the wrist than a serious crackdown.
Russian athletes can still compete and win medals if they test clean, they just won’t get to hear their national anthem played. And there is still no fool-proof system for preventing such cheating in the future.
It would be characteristic of the IOC to be more interested in protecting their brand than in truly restoring honesty to the Olympics, but they’re not the only ones whose motives are suspect.
In fact, let’s try to think of a profession that’s gone untouched by cheating at its highest levels: pro sports? No. Finance? No. Academia? No. Politics and government? Come on.
The Russian doping fiasco is a spectacular example of cheating on a massive scale, encouraged and condoned by a government. But let’s not pretend it’s anything new, that their behavior isn’t widely duplicated elsewhere.
And let’s also not pretend that we’ve all decided cheating is wrong, because we haven’t.