Integrity gives meaning to sports

Integrity gives meaning to sports

Pistols at dawn. Sabres in the morning.

In ancient times, a questioning of honour was often settled with violence. Make an accusation of cheating, prepare to fight a duel.

It was barbaric, yet cheating can never be a casual accusation, never be a label affixed without proof or deliberation. Of all indictments of the sporting character, this leaves the most indelible stain.

Thus a blogger's assertion recently that runners at the Standard Chartered Marathon were guilty of chicanery and had not truly completed the race was a powerful allegation. He loaded pictures of the suspects, yet he was wrong for these slower runners had been diverted by organisers through no fault of their own.

The blogger - whose name is known but I'd rather not mention it again for we live in a dismal culture of flaming - swiftly apologised. Many accusers do not, and Internet vigilantes who accuse without adequate investigation have become quick-fingered, over-zealous Sherlocks of the modern culture. We are living in the electronic reign of the righteous.

We skewer strangers without considering damage, we troll on Twitter without reflecting on the consequences of our own malice.

If a man hypothetically left his car in a disabled parking lot at a hospital he would, these days, be rapidly classified as a jerk, his number plate displayed and his address and family photos leaked.

Perhaps his young child was dying, he was late, the carpark full, his mind elsewhere. But we imagine only the worst of people.

Cultures are incredibly hard to change, even in marathoning itself.

A race of tradition and torment, of self-examination and self-flagellation, cannot ever be reduced to idle pursuit.

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