Monday, January 11, 2010

Post No. 143d: Is a Professional Athlete Justified in Lying about Performance Enhancing Drugs?

Earlier today, former professional baseball player Mark McGwire publicly admitted that he was using steroids at the time that he broke baseball's home run record in 1998. He said that he knew that this day would come.

During a Senate investigation into steroid use at the professional sports level, he chose to neither confirm nor deny his use. Other professional athletes have admitted their use, while others have denied it.

Is the use of performance enhancing drugs a form of cheating? Is the refusal of someone to respond to direct questions about their use tantamount to lying? Is cheating an implicit form of lying?

In the event that a teammate sees a colleague using such supplements, should he or she automatically disclose this information, only when asked, only when it adversely affects the team, only when it positively impacts the team, or keep the information to him or herself?

What if the questions are directed toward the use by someone else about that other person's use? Is the respondent justified in lying about the acts of another?

Is the use of such supplements purely a personal matter about which the public should not be concerned?

We previously generated a piece entitled, 27 Situations Where People We Respect Claim that "Lying" is Appropriate. Instead of simply re-posting the text of the original article, we are directing people to the original post and the comments made at that time regarding the concept and honesty and where it is really expected or demanded.

What's the standard for lying in our society?


  1. There is no acceptable standard for lying to protect oneself (or one's friends) from being caught breaking rules.

  2. Does it matter Rodak who established or promulgated the rules? What if there is a conflict between a law or rule established by man or the state as opposed to those which may be viewed as having been established by a supreme being or deity?

    What about apartheid, Nazi laws, Jim Crow laws, laws against miscegenation, internment laws applicable to the Japanese, laws against homosexuality, laws against slave trade or human trafficking?

    Obviously the use of steroids does not rise to the same level of scrutiny or concern, but we are trying to determine whether a universal standard or construct can be established for lying.

  3. I wonder, rodak, if that was your position in 1998 or if it only applies to certain situations and rules.

    I am not one to ask the question, I don't think. I am one who tries to tell the truth at all times, regardless, but who has slipped more than a few times.

    McGwire and other athletes should not violate the rules of the organization, just as citizens should not violate the laws of society.

    Is there another standard to even contemplate?

  4. Laikhra: Thanks much for the compliment and for visiting our site. Do stop by often. We try to seriously address issues.

  5. I just finished reading the long list of comments made by your readers at the time of your original post. People came up with all sorts of justifications for lying. I am surprised that no one has come forth thus far in support of not admitting to the use of steroids.

  6. Yes, yes, yes yes yes. It's wrong to use steroids, it's an unfair advantage, it's risky healthwise, its not a medical reason to use. Just like it's not ok to use opiates without a medical justification, it's wrong to use steroids for athletic reasons. Athletes are admired because they display the best of the human condition. Play with what you've got, not with a chemical enhancement.

  7. Welcome back PhD in Yogurtry. Obviously, we tried to tie in the issue of lying with cheating and its applicability to professional sports. However, we'd appreciate your views on some of the other questions posed.

    Are there any circumstances where lying is appropriate in life?

  8. When you title your post as you have, and open with Mark McGwire's voluntary admission today of his steroid use, you are certainly inferring he lied. Is that not a form of lying on your part?

    Mark McGwire did not lie. He was asked questions by Congress and he chose not to answer them, as any of us could. That is not a lie. He in fact was advised by his attorneys to answer in the way that he did, and the Congressmen knew he would answer in that manner.

    I am sure you never tell an untruth, when a woman asks if you like her hair or if she looks fat in that dress, I'm sure you answer with brutal honesty. It's what we do in society.

  9. Joeherrera: Thanks for visiting our forum.

    If one reads ALL of the introductory questions posed in this post, it becomes apparent that we were raising theoretical questions about responses to questions concerning one's conduct or the conduct of others.

    Furthermore, if one reads the original article and the comments in response thereto, the intent of this discussion becomes even more apparent.

    We apologize if we unintentionally misled you to think that WE were taking that position that Mark McGwire lied. That was not our intent in any way. Sometimes in our effort to keep the verbiage to a minimum, we cut corners, and the message becomes muddled, and for that we take full responsibility.

    The purpose of this forum is simply to raise questions and explore different ways of looking at issues, not to take hard and fast positions on what is right or wrong.

    Please visit us again.

  10. Joe, wouldn't McGwire's refusal to answer those questions be considered "lies of omission?" He essentially invoked his 5th Amendment right not to incriminate himself. If we were on a jury, or were members of a law enforcement agency or some part of the justice system, we would be required to not infer guilt from that statement. The average citizen is not honor bound to do so; we make such judgments (rightly or wrongly in others' opinions) all the time. But what we now know as fact is that McGwire did not answer those questions in front of Congress because to say "no" would have been perjury and to say "yes" would have been admission of guilt. So, logically, he was engaging in a cover up of his guilt. Technically, you are correct, he told no lie. He avoided telling the truth. Is there a moral difference?

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