Cyclist Lance Armstrong, winner of seven consecutive Tour de France titles, categorically denied for years that he used performance enhancing drugs. After years of speculation and legal grandstanding, he finally admitted to taking performance enhancing drugs for most of his career. (See Lance and Oprah interview) Of course, this was all after he had been awarded seven Tour de France titles and the prize money and celebrity that comes along with that including marketing contracts, etc. There are some who say that he didn’t really cheat because everyone is doing it, so he was just keeping the playing field fair. But, what about that one person who never cheated? Did he think the playing field was fair and square? Now, it may seem like I’m picking on Lance Armstrong as the only one who has done this. There are others who have been accused and proven guilty- Marion Jones, Jose Conseco, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and the list goes on and on. But, in an individual sport such as cycling, the results are just more obvious. How tempting it must have been for other cyclists to “know” in their own hearts and minds that Lance Armstrong was cheating and benefitting. Do you think his success from cheating led to widespread cheating?
As I examine my past work situations, I can see how one person achieving success via less than professional behavior can contaminate an entire unit. It’s highly contagious and goes viral like a cute baby video. How can you stand the tide when you’re engulfed in an ocean of unethical, unprofessional behavior and standards? I really don’t have any answers for this one. Just hoping someone else out there has some insight.
A colleague shared this Ethics Infographic from the world of libraries based on the Code of Ethics from the American Library Association. Each profession has its own code, so this may a sampling of what it looks like in your profession.