Working In Corrupt Societies

Two weeks ago I shared a list of questions that I’ve used consciously, and unconsciously, to make decisions when my surroundings didn’t make sense anymore.

Until I turned 30, corruption was something that happened to other people. Looking back, either I was the problem, or I was far too self-absorbed to take a look around. Probably a mix of both.


Cycling (today) is providing a case study of what happens when multi-generational corruption comes into the public domain.

We are reading frequent insider references to cycling being a corrupt society (Hamilton, Millar, Vaughters). Against this background, it is useful to remember that most elite athletes are good people. Within my own circle, I don’t know any evil cheaters – they are simply cheaters. 

How do good people create, sustain and cope with life in a corrupt society? Deciding that there isn’t a problem (triathlon) is one way. Another way to cope is to become part of a “solution.” Activists working to change a corrupt society are given a pass because we balance their good deeds against their continued participation in corruption. I’d point out that anyone cashing a check at the top of cycling is part of that society. Best to be honest with one’s self.

With truly good people, their goodness will drive them from corruption. Reading the cycling autobiographies, I was struck by how the lying drains the joy from cyclists’ hearts.

I don’t blame others for taking the money. As a young man, I had my price.

When I have set my price (via wins, money or recognition), I knew it was time to leave.