Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Is it cheating?

Returning, very briefly, to the idea that the Brits might be more "aspirational" than the French, the two countries certainly have different codes of behaviour when it comes to things sportif.

So, for example, in beating Paris to secure the right to host the next Olympic Games, London clearly cheated. How? Because Lord Coe and his team - "perfide Albion" to the French - lobbied behind the scenes.

They did what? Um, yes, they went out of their way to chat up the presidents of the other Olympic committees.

Then, during the last Tour de France, the British cyclist Mark Cavendish, who won six stages on French territory, was guilty of something very close to cheating in French eyes.

What did Cavendish do? He took drugs? No. But his experience as a youngster as a track cyclist - where it’s possible to develop a very explosive style - gave Cavendish an unfair advantage in the mass sprint finishes that characterised this year’s Tour de France. And, what’s more, he had the best team on his side.

I’ve given up trying to put the Brit point of view: that, in both of the above cases, it’s the professionalism of Coe and Cavendish that helped them secure their prizes. You can’t win races on skill and innate talent alone - you have to have aspirations to go beyond what you were born with. In a sense, it’s your duty to do everything you can - legally - to win, isn’t it, if you’re in the position of professionals such as Coe and Cavendish?

“Ah”, reply my French friends, “but you don’t have more skill than us, just more money…”

1 comment:

  1. Yes, that's right, there's still this idea in France that it's wrong to use money in any way, shape or form except to pay the taxman.