HAGELIN: Do what’s right — nothing but the truth

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It’s too easy to ignore the pricks of conscience, especially when other wrongdoers tell us not to worry about it. As one cyclist confessed, “He said not to worry if I felt bad at first, that I would feel good at the end.”

The pursuit of glory — and money — shuts down many good consciences.

The takeaway for our children is this: Don’t ever fool yourself into thinking that you “have to” do something wrong. Stay wary of your own weaknesses — and have the courage to walk away before the temptation gets too strong. You will find lasting rewards when you maintain integrity.

All of us make mistakes. Some of our mistakes are more public than others. Another important lesson to teach our children is to own up to our sins and failings. The cover-up sometimes does more damage than the original offense, at least in terms of the damage done to the offender’s character. The deceit never ends, as the lies pile up on each other. The passage of time makes it even more difficult to come clean.

It’s better to do the right thing, to take responsibility for wrongdoing, no matter how late in the game. One cyclist, David Zabriskie, lost his past titles and place on the Olympic team when he came clean, but in so doing, he found freedom.

“Ironically, the sport I had turned to for escaping drugs [his father’s substance abuse] turned out to be rampant with doping. … I questioned, I resisted, but in the end, I felt cornered and succumbed to the pressure. … It was a violation — a violation not only of the code I was subject to, but my personal and moral compass that I had set out to follow. I accept full responsibility and was happy to come forward. … I want to do my share to help bring this entire issue to the fore and ensure a safe, healthy and clean future for cycling,” Mr. Zabriskie said.

The difference between Lance Armstrong and David Zabriskie? Mr. Zabriskie accepts responsibility for his wrongs. He’s making amends and trying to do good.

Mr. Armstrong? He’s silent. Oh, and he’s begun another career, this time as a triathlete. Some triathlon sponsors apparently will do anything to have a high-profile athlete participate. Others want nothing to do with him, no matter how much good his foundation has done to fight cancer. As one triathlon competitor put it, “I think it’s great he’s raised money for cancer. … But if he’s cheating, he’s cheating. It’s disgraceful.”

C’mon Lance. It’s time to undo the damage.

It’s time to Liveclean.

Rebecca Hagelin can be reached at rebecca@howtosaveyourfamily.com.

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