So there's this British motorcyclist I follow named Lyndon Poskitt. He's a guy from the Yorkshire area of England who several years ago started traveling around the world on a modified KTM rally bike. He has a video series called Races To Places which is a fun travelogue of sorts showing the places he goes and the races he enters using the very bike he's traveling around the world on. He's a very personable bloke and I really like his positive attitude. I'm sure he's a very tough and serious competitor - you have to be to compete at the level he does. But overall I think he's a pretty good guy. He's raced in three Dakars - two in the Malle Moto class which means he has no outside help - and this year in the Africa ECO race with a full team (mechanics and four other riders). He's put the whole thing together to video the experience and bring it to us the viewers. I find it very entertaining. He finished third and the others on the team did great as well.
But the race wasn't without problems or controversy. On one of the special stages, the racing organizers issued corrections to the roadbook which has the navigation instructions the racers follow to complete the stage. It must be followed precisely or you can lose points by missing waypoints. Corrections are not unheard of and every racer is supposed to attend the meetings to get the corrections. On that particular day a few skipped the meeting and thus didn't have the corrections. Turns out though that the corrections were really hosed up. Poskitt and the other leaders of the race got totally lost and it took 30-60 minutes to get themselves un-lost. But the competitors that didn't have the corrections made it through just fine. Complaints were made to the organizers about it, Poskitt among them. One of the racers that skipped the meeting was Paolo Lucci. Fast forward to the last day and stage of the race. Lucci is in 3rd, Poskitt in 4th and Lucci came in earlier on the previous stage than Poskitt, so he starts the stage first. Lyndon notices that Lucci's tires are not the FIM regulated tire type (essentially DOT approved), but instead are a straight motocross tire. He asks the officials if motocross tires are allowed - he doesn't file a complaint, just points it out and asks the question. The stage continues, completes, and Lucci has come in 3rd, Poskitt 4th. The officials however penalize Lucci 15 minutes due to breaking the tire rule and the racer's final positions end up swapped. Sad, but it happens. Rules are inviolate and you break them at your peril.
Here's where it gets interesting. Lucci's Italian team and supporters are accusing Poskitt of deliberately waiting until the end to make the tire complaint (which he didn't) as well as trying to complain about the roadbook problem (for which he also didn't file a complaint against Lucci) and "rob" Lucci of his rightful third place. They're not saying he didn't have the wrong tires, they're just saying that it was petty of Lyndon to point it out. So there's this huge hue and cry from one corner that Lyndon, who raced by the rules, shouldn't have pointed out that Lucci broke the rules because it's not in the comraderie spirt of the race and the tire difference doesn't give anyone any real advantage. In other words, they're upset because they got caught cheating.
Herein is a current example of a prevalent attitude in today's society. It's okay to cheat as long as you don't get caught, and if you do, play the victim. We see it in sports and politics and it's just wrong. It's like when you lie to your parents as a kid and your sibling "tattles" on you when asked by the parent. You're mad you got caught and blame your sibling for it. Who made the choice to break the rule? You wanted them to lie about it for you? Personal integrity has been under attack for decades, but you want to have hope that athletic competitors are above that. But stories like this, scandals in the Olympics, Lance Armstrong, and others show otherwise. I know not all competitors fall into that camp and there are some sports, golf as one example, that pride itself by the self-reporting of penalties. Tennis too has wonderful moments in history of players who corrected officials to their own detriment because it was the right thing to do. Regardless of what you do for a living and where you are in the world, you can make the choice to live your life with integrity or not. It really is that simple - it's just that sometimes it can be hard. Honor and personal integrity, however, is worth it.