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When Bullying Leads to Believing Essay

“Following Lance Armstrong: Excellence Corrupted case study, written by Clayton Rose and Noah Fisher 2014, of Global Research Group for Harvard Business School.” When it came to the sport of cycling, Lance possessed characteristics that made him unique. His ability to take in and use oxygen effectively was higher than an average man by 90% and a trained and active many by 42%. Lance also produced less lactic acid than others, which allowed him to dominate the shorter races (Rose & Fisher, 2014). By the time he was 21, Lance had already ridden in his first tour and won the U.S. Pro Championship. Lance Armstrong also cheated death at the young age of 25. He won the battle against cancer when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer that then spread to his lungs and brain (Rose & Fisher, 2014). Lance vowed to return to the cycling world someday and that he did. Taking with him the hearts of Americans. Could all these achievements have create a man that thought he was so invincible that he could bully his way to the top, have people lie for him and also bring down all those around him who thought he cheated while still believing it wasn’t “cheating”?

With personal sponsors such as Nike, Oakley and Giro and creating the Lance Armstrong Foundation, Lance became an iconic figure. In 1997, when the USPS (United States Postal Service) sponsored the U.S. cycling team, they also took a chance with Lance. It was a rocky start until Johan Bruyneel became the team director and changed Lance’s training schedule and regime (Rose & Fisher, 2014). Armstrong was the key decision maker when it came to the team such as choosing the other riders, the doctors and the support staff. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Lance describes doping as leveling the playing field because everyone else was doing it. This could be considered rules based (Ghillyer, 2014) as he is doing it the same as everyone else. Tyler Hamilton had doped for the first time after the 1997 Tour, which was two years before Lance won his first Tour (Fisher, 2014). The descriptive perspective (Ghillyer, 2014) is that doping has been going on for more than 50 years and it will always be there. The cyclists need to be faster and stronger and feel that there is no other option in order to stay in this sport.

It was said that doping is an unfortunate act of cycling and that cycling can’t separate itself from it’s own history. In order for Lance to maintain the momentum that doping was giving him on cycling, his teammates also had to increase their performance level by doping as well. Scott Mercier who rode with Lance in 1997 on the USPS team refused to go against his value system and simple truths (Ghillyer, 2014) and succumb to the bullying and peer pressure and decided instead to just leave the sport. Lance’s individual rules of appropriate behavior (Ghillyer, 2014) were flawed. At the age of 15, Lance was already lying about his age in order to compete in the adult races. This is found to be a value conflict (Ghillyer, 2014) as Lance had done this many times for his own greater good so that he could be able to race against stronger competition. In the1999 Tour, the French Newspaper Le Monde reported that Lance had actually tested positive for cortisone. Lance responded to this by producing a backdated doctors note (Rose & Fisher, 2014). Maybe this was the start of Lance’s ends-based resolution principle (Ghillyer, 2014).

Knowing that if he won the Tour, this would be a phenomenal feat for his sponsors, his teammates and all the staff that have supported him throughout this journey. In 2000, the disposal of syringes and Actovegin by staff of USPS was witnessed by French television. Armstrong and his team claimed that the team’s mechanic used the syringes for the treatment of his diabetes and the medication was for the riders to treat their road rash. As the years went on Lance and the other riders and team members became more and more entrenched in the doping and lies that came with covering up the facts and did whatever needed to be done to protect themselves. Lance had bullied and verbally threatened anyone that suggested he had cheater; whether it was a journalist, team member or race officials. He also filed lawsuits.

One of which was against the Sunday Times for libel in 2004. He paid the Union Cycliste International (UCI) two donations totaling $125,000 to cover his positive test scores. Lance had to protect himself, his team, his foundation and his finances. Floyd Landis, a former teammate with the USPS team in 2002 – 2004 who had witnessed and participated in both the doping and cover up stories decided to come clean. In September of 2010, Landis filed a federal whistle-blowing lawsuit against Armstrong and other USPS team members knowing that what is currently happening is not what should be happening. This is also known as the normative perspective (Ghillyer, 2014). Maybe Landis decision to speak up was based on Joseph Badaracco Jr’s sleep test ethic (Ghillyer, 2014, pp. 9-10). His subconscious wasn’t letting him sleep peacefully until he did what he knew was right. Truth versus loyalty (Ghillyer, 2014).

Being loyal to the world of cycling was no longer worth people not knowing the truth of what was really happening and Landis also knew that this conflict was about more than just him. This was an individual versus community (Ghillyer, 2014) conflict. The list of those who were affected by Lance’s cheating scandal was immense. The Lance Armstrong Foundation cut ties with him and is now known as Livestrong. His sponsors dropped him and 11 of Lance’s former teammates gave evidence supporting his doping usage (www.bbc.com). In a recent interview, Lance described the fall out over the last two years since the confession as being heavy and worse than he expected it would be (www.bbc.com). The USADA gave reduced bans of just six months to five teammates that testified against Lance and he doesn’t understand why this opportunity wasn’t given to him. Lance received a lifetime ban from cycling.

A Sunday Times journalist by the name of David Walsh worked hard to discredit Lance and show him as a fraud. Lance filed a lawsuit against the Sunday Times for libel in 2004. In 2013, the Sunday Times counter-sued Lance and the case was settled confidentially. As the USPS, which is a federal agency, sponsored the cycling team Landis was able to file a lawsuit against Lance under the whistle blower. Landis would be protected against retaliation and could also be entitled to as much as 30% of the total damages. In 2013, the Department of Justice joined the lawsuit. Lance could stand to lose as much as 100 million dollars. At this point, Lance is only about protecting those in his immediate family that also shares his last name but says he would cheat again if his cycling career started over again and believes it’s time to be forgiven for his mistakes (bbc.com).


Blanding, M. (2013). Lessons from the Lance Armstrong Cheating Scandal. Retrieved from http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/7308.html Ghillyer, A. (2012). Business Ethics Now (4th ed.). : McGraw-Hill. Morlidge, M. (2015, January 26). Lance Armstrong says he would cheat again if cycling career

started over…and believes it’s time to be forgiven after drugs shame. Retrieved from:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/othersports/article-2927113/Lance-Armstrong-says-cheat-cycling-career-started-over.html Rose, C. & Fisher, N. (2014, October 7). Following Lance Armstrong: Excellence Corrupted. Harvard Business School, 9-314-015. Retrieved from https://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu Schrotenboer, B. (2014). Lance Armstrong at impasse with feds over evidence. Retrieved from: http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/cycling/2014/12/03/lance-armstrong-at-impasse-with-feds-over-evidene

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