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									16 Cheating and Honesty – Looking Within, with the help of the world’s great novelists
4.17.08 – could use one final review
You must judge from within

There are a set of religious, or rather moral, writers who teach that virtue is the certain
road to happiness, and vice to misery, in this world. A very wholesome and comfortable
doctrine, and to which we have but one objection: namely, that it is not true.
998 -Henry Fielding (1707-1754) British Playwright and Novelist

It is true that sports and cheating go hand in hand. That's because cheating is more
common in the face of bright-line incentive (the line between winning and losing, for
instance) than with murky incentives. Olympic swimmers and weightlifters, cyclists in
the Tour de France, football lineman and baseball sluggers: they have all been shown to
swallow whatever pill or powder may give them an edge. It is not only the participants
who cheat. Cagey baseball managers try to steal an opponents signs. In the 2002 Winter
Olympics figure skating competition, a French judge and a Russian judge were caught
trying to swap votes to make sure their skaters medaled.
Steven Levitt 1499 American Economist, born 1967, author of Freakonomics

If you want to win, cheat. That seems to be the modern mantra, both in sports and often
in business. Doping seems to be universally practiced in sports, from sluggers like Barry
Bonds, to cyclists such as Floyd Landis, to track and field stars like Marion Jones, and a
host of other lesser known leaders in a wide variety of sports. Sometimes they’re caught,
very often they are not. Did superstar pitcher Rodger Clemens use steroids? Despite an
absurd congressional investigation, and sworn oaths, the public may never know. How
about seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong? Plenty of accusations, no
proof. And cheating is certainly not limited to drugs; Bill Belichick, New England
Patriots Coach, and winner of 3 Super Bowls thus far, was fined heavily for stealing
signals from opposing teams. NBA referee Tim Donaghy was fired after it had been
learned that he had bet on games he was officiating. Stories of illegal recruitment of
college athletes in basketball and football are almost a daily occurrence.

It would be nice to think that cheaters are eventually found out, both in sport and in
business, but this simply isn’t true. The reality of life is that evil often prospers, at least in
public. As detailed elsewhere in this book, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates built his vast
fortune on an operating system that he did not create and obtained in a dubious
transaction, yet he will in no way be held accountable except perhaps by history. There is
a huge amount of evidence that Barry Bonds set the home run record while using
steroids, but he still has the record, and has been paid many millions of dollars while
achieving it. Bobby Knight is one of the most notorious coaches in all of college sports,
and was fired for his unethical behavior while at Indiana University, but was still hired by
another school, and was able to pass that job along to his son when he decided to join
ESPN as a commentator. He even got paid advertisements that made fun of his temper.
The idea of shame, or disgrace, is unknown in both modern sports and business. Bobby
Knight was a winner on the court, and only failure is really punished.
Yet, while professional sport provides almost endless examples of cheating, amateur
athletics provides a different perspective. If your goal was to run a six minute mile,
would you run ¾ of a mile in six minutes and tell yourself you had succeeded? Would
you shoot a round of 80 on the golf course and tell yourself you had shot 70? Would you
bench press 180 and tell yourself it was 200 pounds? Of course not – you realize you are
competing principally against yourself. Of course, some people do lie to themselves,
about sporting achievement, about business, and about everything else. It is this sort of
internal dishonesty that is the beginning of the end, and many of the world’s great
novelists have focused on the contradiction between internal dishonesty and public
stardom. As the Russian novelist Dostoevsky said:

“A man who lies to himself and believes his own lies becomes unable to recognize the
truth, either in himself or in anyone else, and he ends up losing respect for himself as well
as for others. When he has no respect for anyone, he can no longer love, and in order to
divert himself, having no love in him, he yields to his impulses, indulges in the lowest
forms of pleasure, and behaves in the end like an animal, in satisfying his vices. And it all
comes from lying - lying to others and to yourself. (889)

Behaving like an animal, and indulging in the lowest forms of vice is a pretty good
description of the kinds of behavior we see from many leading sports figures; beating
wives and girlfriends, fights and shooting incidents, rape, and drug dealing are some
common examples. The kind of gross materialism and coarse sensuality we see from
some business figures is, as with athletes, an indication of the lack of self respect which
Dostoevsky describes.

Internal honesty, which leads to external honesty, is at the core of making business like
sport, in the best sense of sport. And this honesty is based on a sort of courage, the
courage to face reality, or not be to be afraid of the opinions of others. The people who
cheat are the people who are most determined to impress others, and most afraid of the
low opinion of others. Ultimately, they live for others, rather than themselves, as has been
so eloquently shown in the work of novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand, quoted elsewhere
in this book. But it doesn’t take a great novelist to make this point; the popular American
actor Jack Nicholson captured the point nicely when he said: “There’s nothing in lying as
far as I’m concerned. It’s always a manifestation of being afraid of something.”

In the ultimate game, how matters as much as how much – in fact, more. If you succeed
by misleading customers, or employees, investors – in fact, anyone, you haven’t
succeeded – you’ve cheated. Of course, the game is much harder if you play by the rules
– but since you make the rules you should understand why the rules are important. And
since, ultimately, you’re playing against yourself, you have no one to fool. If you’re
looking to impress the world, cheating might pay. If you’re looking to impress yourself, it
doesn’t. There is a wonderful scene in the epic novel, The Way We Live Now, by the
Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope, where Mrs. Hurtle describes her admiration for the
reigning financier of the day, later revealed to be a con man. The hero of the book, Paul
Montague, is unimpressed:
Mrs. Hurtle: They tell me that he holds the world of commerce in his right hand. What
power - what grandeur!

Paul Montague: Grand enough, if it all came honestly.

Mrs. Hurtle: Such a man rises above honesty, as a great general rises above humanity
when he sacrifices an army to conquer a nation. Such greatness is incompatible with
small scruples. A pigmy man is stopped by a little ditch, but a giant stalks over the rivers.

Paul Montague: I prefer to be stopped by the ditches.

Of course, there are those who feel that pressure justifies ethical shortcuts. Gene Upshaw
has a long history in the NFL, playing for the Oakland Raiders for 15 years, then serving
as head of the players’ union. This is his point of view:

“The pressure to win in our league is enormous. The pressure on a player who earns $1
million, $2 million, $3 million also is enormous. If they don't perform, they don't make
those salaries. The stakes are so high. Is it realistic to expect all of them to have the
highest moral fiber in how they play the game? I don't think so.”

In business, where success is often measured by the scorecard of growth, the temptation
to lie and cheat is also intense. Russell Simmons, the owner of Phat Farm, claimed
$350M in sales on CNBC; in Newsweek, the figure was $240M, and in his book, $150M.
In litigation, he said the sales had never been more than $14.5M. Utterly without shame,
after being found out, he called the lies "a good brand positioning statement". Some say
such lying is a necessary part of competition, because everyone else is doing it, your
brand or company will appear to be a failure if you don’t exaggerate it’s growth or

“you need to market your brand to the media, customers, potential employees, even
potential acquirers. And all of them want to be associated with a brand that's
skyrocketing. What's more, claims of rapid growth attract attention from potential
customers, which turns the whole thing - one hopes - into a self-fulfilling prophecy. It's
an equation of deceit that's a dirty little secret of business today. It's a reflection, needless
to say, of a supersize me culture in which overstatement is epidemic. There's grade
inflation in the academic world, the steroid mess in baseball, McMansions sprouting up
everywhere, Hardee's new ,1420 calorie Monster Thickburger. In this world, if your
business isn't growing 40% a year, you feel like a failure”
Adam Hanft, CEO of Hanft Unlimited, ad firm (1875)

Professional athletes make the same claims; as Upshaw implies, they must cheat to
compete; once some players start using steroids, they all must use them or be left behind.
But this is really more excuse than justification; It is true that in some sports, such as
professional bodybuilding, the use of drugs is so pervasive, and effective, that one could
not realistically expect to win contests, no matter how hard you train, without taking such
drugs. But there is no corollary in the business world; while cheating often confers an
advantage, it is not critical. There have been plenty of Wall Street traders who have
profited from insider information; there have also been plenty who have profited without
it. There are developers who have bribed government officials to get good deals; there
have been plenty who have made money without doing so. Rare is the personal injury
lawyer who does not engage in trying to mislead juries, but there are plenty of other
types of lawyers who do not. The key is to pick a game, or a business, in which you
can win playing by rules with which you are comfortable. If you don’t want to take
steroids, don’t plan on becoming a competitive bodybuilder, or do, but realize that you
are not going to win contests competing against those who cheat. As Adam Hanft says,
“companies that grow rapidly often fail rapidly, and the toxic pressures of reporting
constant rapid growth are the behind the never ending spate of Wall Street scandals.
There's a powerful argument to be made for measured and strategic business growth.” So
maybe you simply accept the fact that your business won’t be the fastest growing in the
world, but you will grow it in a way in which you’re comfortable. That doesn’t fit with
the American “winner take all” attitude, but it very much fits with winning the ultimate

Profile: A Writer Takes Steroids

Sometimes you can win, in the eyes of others, by cheating, yet the personal costs are so
high that it still ends up being more like losing. Steroids are a good example. When
writer Craig Davidson was working on a novel about two boxers, he took steroids so that
he could have a deeper understanding of the protagonist, who took steroids in the book.
But he also took them because he enjoyed the feeling of newfound strength and bulk that
the steroids made possible; as can be seen from the ironic title of the article he wrote for
Esquire magazine in April of 2008: “Look at Me! I’m a Big Strong Boy!

If you read his graphic descriptions of the process of using steroids, you may come to the
conclusion that cheating may be effective, but still no bargain. On his first attempt to buy
steroids he was defrauded; the second successful attempt involved “an encrypted email
account, a money order wired to Tel Aviv, and weeks of apprehension”. This is not stuff
you can buy on eBay or He describes the needles, one and half inches
long, as “hog stickers”. What he injected was, among other things, Equipoise, a
veterinary drug used for horses. He was going to inject it into his “ass; plenty of meat
there. But the sciatic nerve radiates from my hip, and if I hot shot the junk into a vein, I
could go into cardiac collapse. I tucked a bag of frozen corn beneath my underwear to
numb the injection site…The needle slid in so easily I wasn’t aware it’d broken the skin.
When I pulled it out, a pressurized stream of blood spurted halfway across the room.”
There were 11 injections a week including testosterone twice a week (for muscle mass),
Equipose twice a week (to minimize water retention) and Winstrol daily (for muscle
hardness). But messing with your body in this way causes a whole bunch of nasty side
effects, so Davidson also had to take:
    - Dianabol (3 per day for first four weeks)
    -   Testosterone cypionate (ten weeks)
    -   Nolvadex (anti estrogen drug, one to 4 pills daily depending on week)
    -   Proviron (male menopause drug)
    -   HCG (derived from the urine of pregnant women, injected during post-cyle
        therapy to restore natural testosterone levels)

Davidson says his drug use was only moderate, and that professional bodybuilders may
have fifteen different drugs in their system at any given time.

During the first week of his use, his nipples started to itch. “Dump enough testosterone
into your system, and your system counters by upping its estrogen output; this leads to a
buildup of breast tissue. After long term use it can get so bad that some men require
surgical breast reductions. I woke up one morning and nearly had a heart attack at the
sight of myself. My nipples were the size of sand dollars, I appeared to have breasts.”
This problem is known as gynecomastia, which can be controlled with the Nolvadex
mentioned above. But then his hair started to fall out: He started to notice his hair on his
pillow, between his teeth, falling into the pages of books he was reading.

So the drugs that were supposed to make him a bigger, stronger man were giving him
breasts, causing his hair to fall out and then, in the ultimate of all indignities, he started to
notice that his testicles were shrinking. Shrinking testicles is a very well known effect of
steroid abuse. “I sat up in the dark, gasping, clutching them to make sure they were still
there. Within days they had shrunk to half their normal size: sad, shriveled grapes.”

Next, he felt a ridge growing on his forehead, clinically referred to as cranial swelling,
the growth of a “Neanderthal like ridge forming above the user’s brow, commonly
associated with HGH, human growth hormone.”

On Davidson’s sixth injection, he hit “a major nerve. My leg bucks uncontrollably, knee
nearly striking forehead. Blood leaks from the puncture down my leg.” Then he tries his
calf, but hits a vein again. And again. Like any other drug abuser, “sometimes I couldn’t
stop shaking” as he injected himself.

The lunacy of his regiment extended beyond the drugs. To maximize his muscle growth
he tried to eat as much protein as possible, as much as twenty cans of tuna a day, as well
as five or six protein shakes. He kept shoveling tuna, oatmeal, egg whites, and boiled
chicken into his mouth like a robot.

In week six he started having prostate issues. “Imagine steroids as an A- bomb. If your
testicles are ground zero, your prostate lies clearly in the fallout zone.…..A swollen
prostate crimps the urethral tube, making it torture to piss” , which he was doing 15 times
a day. “It also crowds the bladder, making it feel as if I always need to piss, even if
there’s nothing to pass.” With all the extra testosterone coursing through his system, he
also found the need to masturbate several times a day. So his daily routine was one of
eating, taking drugs, working out, and masturbating; and this is the typical daily routine
of any steroid abuser.
Davidson did get stronger – in fact, a lot stronger, and also much more muscular; the
before and after photos are striking. He gained 30 pounds of muscle in a few weeks. But
he couldn’t walk more than a few blocks before “a fist sized stone settled upon my lower
back…My joints felt hyper extended; constantly popping and cracking…I felt calcified,
hardened, and frightenly old.” In that sense, the steroids and the rest of the programs
certainly worked, just as they do for many pro athletes. And just as other forms of
cheating do for many business people.

As soon as Davidson stopped the program, after several months, he immediately lost all
of the strength and muscle mass he had gained. Most of his side effects also went away,
although he had a partially herniated disk, enlarged prostate, and fluid buildup on one
knee as a result of carrying the weight he had gained. “My body now looked worse than
before the steroids” due to bloating, although he had returned to his old weight. His
nipples still poked out of his shirt. He also worried about whether the routine might have
caused him to go sterile. Blood tests showed his liver values were still messed up.

You can, in some sense, win by cheating. In the end you just have to ask yourself if it was
worth it; if the illusion of victory presented to others was worth all the self-deception and
the secret price you have to pay.

Hypocrisy: Profile: Ted Turner

Like intelligence, there are many different forms of honesty, dishonesty, and deception.
There is the outright fraud of those who cook the books, or deliberately mislead investors,
customers, or employees – in some cases, just about everyone. There are those who, like
politicians, say different things to different people, trying to tell everyone what they want
to hear, and, like a good politician, may actually believe what they are saying at the time
they say it. There are those who don’t fabricate facts, but just embellish or exaggerate.
There are those, especially among entrepreneurs creating new companies, who say what
they hope to be the case, or want to be the case, or expect to be the case, rather than what
is; this is more wishful thinking than lying. Those who always say exactly what they
honestly believe, and who are ruthlessly honest both with themselves and others, are a
minority, and are often punished, rather than rewarded, for their frankness.

In the transparent world of sports, there is far less room for deception. This is certainly
not to say that athletes or coaches, by their nature, are any less inclined to mislead than
the average business person. But the bright lights shine much more clearly on every level
of sports than they do on the often obscure world of business; the average college football
fan knows far more about his teams strengths and weaknesses than the average investor
understands about the financial statements of those companies in which he or she has
invested hard earned cash.

Recommended Reading: Media Man
Ted Turner: 6- A terrible hypocrite, and self-centered juvenile, who started in business
with a major inheritance, Turner nonetheless created the idea of 24 hour news when he
started CNN, and built one of the world’s most important media companies, later sold to
Time Warner

Hypocrisy is the form of dishonesty when someone says one thing and does another. In
modern business, Ted Turner, founder of CNN, is a wonderful example. Turner has had a
close relationship with one of the worst dictator’s in the world, Fidel Castro. Castro, one
of the last remaining Communist dictators, has routinely imprisoned and tortured political
dissenters, and the impoverished citizens of Cuba have died by the thousands trying to
emigrate to the US. Yet when Turner went to Cuba in 1981 to cover the May Day parade
he said, “Fidel isn’t a Communist, he’s a dictator just like me.” It was his experience in
Cuba that inspired Turner to focus CNN on international news. (Media Man. P.43).
Despite his comradeship with Castro, in the mid 80s, when he tried to buy CBS, Turner
enlisted the help of conservative Senator Jesse Helms, complaining of CBS’s liberal
bias, an accusation that would later be made against CNN. (47)

Although he had once been a smoker, and smoked cigars with Castro, Turner later
adopted a stringent anti-smoking attitude, and refused to hire anyone who smoked. (48).
Of his personal 10 commandments, one is “I promise to have no more than one or two
children”. (83). He has five. “If I was doing it over again I wouldn’t have that many, but I
can’t shoot them now that they’re here.” (87) He drives fuel efficient cars, such as the
Toyota Prius, which averages 50 miles per gallon. (86), But he also has a private jet,
which is one of the least fuel efficient means of transportation in the world. He gives
money to liberal causes, yet opposed unionization in his own company, and changed
residency to avoid paying Georgia state income tax. (88) He calls himself a “socialist at
heart” yet lead efforts to reduce costs in his companies.

When asked in 2000 if Saddam Hussein is evil, Turner replied “I’m not sure I know
enough to answer that question. (89). Just about everybody will be friendly with us if we
are friendly with them.” (89) An interesting response, given that Hussein, who was
responsible for incredibly devilish ways of torturing and killing tens of thousands of
political opponents, was one of the few dictators on earth that could make Castro look
benign. Despite having shed no tears for the thousands of victims of Castro and Hussein,
“Turner is easily moved to tears.” He calls himself a bleeding heart, and cried over the
death of Princess Diana., as well as over cartoons such as The Iron Giant, the story of a
young boy and his friendship with a metallic being from outer space.(84). p.149 . He
opposes violence, but infamously called the 9.11 terrorists “brave”.

As associate describes him as a mixture of genius and jackass. As Turner himself says, “I
don’t have any idea what I’m going to say. I say what comes to mind.” As Gerald Levin
says, “It’s as if a child were speaking without any social inhibitions.” He left a dinner
honoring him midway through the dinner – like the self centered like a child he is.
p.172 “I came home late with one of my wives – I’ve had several. I was feeling good, had
a couple drinks, and said “I really love you honey’. She said ‘that doesn’t mean squat.
You love everybody.’”. And it’s true. I do love everybody. I do. I do.” Jane Fonda had
this to say about her former husband: “More than anything else in the world, Ted wants
to be seen as a good guy. For some reason, he has a guilty conscience. …Although he
claims to be an atheist, he wants to get into heaven.” 176 A prime Turner motivation is
to satisfy his late father. Turner once held up a copy of Success magazine that featured
him on the cover, and looked to the sky and exclaimed “Is this enough for you Dad?”.

All in all, Turner is a spoiled, hypocritical juvenile in the classically American sense;
willing to take great risks, self-focused, and sincere but without any understanding of the
way the world works, despite starting a network that was supposed to make Americans
understand the world. He says what he is inclined to say at any moment, without any
concern that it might not make sense within the context of his actions, what he has said at
other times, the effects on his company, or plain common sense. He wants to be loved,
and to be seen as “good” without any sense of the long term implications of his words or

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