WHEN A SPORT DOESN’T VALUE ITS CULTURE

21 June 2016 Comments 52

There’s so much happening in the world of sport, around issues that I care very much about and have been writing and talking about for some time, that it’s hard to know where to start. The IAAF, WADA, the IOC, UCI, FIFA … they continue to stumble on in their haze of poor governance practices making generally poor decisions and doing nothing to serve their stakeholders.

Most recently, I wrote about whether sport deserves autonomy. It’s something I and others are actively working on so more on that later.

But something struck me this week from the world of golf that I wanted to share with you.

You may be aware that American golfer Dustin Johnson won the US Open earlier this week. It was a remarkable win for two reasons.

The first is the one that has everyone talking. His ball ‘moved’ on the fifth green, something that results in a stroke penalty. When it happened, Dustin called the match official who was satisfied with Dustin’s explanation that he had not addressed the putt by grounding his club. Dustin’s playing partner, Lee Westwood, agreed. Dustin was told that he wouldn’t face a penalty. However, at the twelfth tee, another USGA official informed him that they were, in effect, second-guessing the previous decision of their own official with a review, but their decision would not be known until the end of the round!

As this report makes clear, the flip-flopping of the US Golf Association (USGA) was roundly criticised by Dustin’s fellow golf professionals including Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Ernie Els. After all, what other sport would wait until the end of the game to make a ruling?

Dustin then had to play out the remaining six holes not knowing if he was penalised or not. Likewise, those nipping at his heels did not know. In the end, the USGA’s inability to make a decision in an appropriate timeframe was spared further condemnation because Dustin Johnson finished five under par, four shots clear. He was eventually penalised by the USPGA which means he finished four under par, three shots clear.

DustinJohnson-18th.jpg

Golfing experts say the application of the relevant rule (Rule 18.2) needs to be sorted-out because it’s nothing more than a ‘judgement call’ that is subjective and also subject to human frailty. For example, earlier in the same tournament, French man Romain Wattel had a similar experience but the USGA determined his actions didn’t cause the ball to move. Major decisions affecting the outcome of a tournament should not be taken in a club house behind closed doors after the event, but when it happens so everyone knows about it.

But what struck me about this is how the USGA treated their player.

I’m not ‘in’ to golf in a big way but I’m enough of a sports fanatic to admire the values that golf brings to sport. Discipline, self-regulation, integrity, respect for the rules. It helps set golf apart from other sports. A bit like the SKINS brand!

When a professional golfer says he or she did not address the ball, I believe them. It’s ingrained into the culture of the sport that golfers are duty-bound to honour player integrity and to protect the rest of the field from rules breaches. Dustin’s fellow competitors believed him also judging by their reaction on social media, as did television commentators.

Shame on USGA for not doing the same and appreciating the values of their sport.

It reminded me of a conversation I had with Lance Armstrong. We were sitting in a bar in Aspen a few years ago. Lance was talking passionately and eloquently about his love for golf. I asked him why he liked it so much. He told me it was because of its self-policing nature and lack of culture of cheating.

It was almost an out-of-body experience to be listening to the man who probably most represents the concept of ‘cheating’ (personally I see him as a doper as opposed to a cheater but that’s a story for another day) in sport to comment on how he would never ever dream of breaking the golfing code. I believed him. I understood that the culture within cycling that Lance had grown-up in and was part of was very different from the culture within golf. Because of that culture, behaviour that was acceptable in one environment was total anathema in another.

There is another aspect to Dustin Johnson’s win that I want to touch on. Two years ago, Dustin took voluntary leave from the professional golf tour to deal with “personal challenges”. These challenges were revealed as related to his use of recreational drugs.

The fact that he has apparently dealt with those challenges, come back, regained the long-hitting, powerful form for which he’s known and shrugged off “amateur hour” officialdom (to quote former SKINS golfer Rory McIlroy) to win the US Open is testament to his resilience, ability and strength of will.

As Dustin said when he was informed of the USGA’s intervention at the twelfth tee: “Just focus on this next shot. I tried to do that from there, all the way to the house. It was just me and the golf course.”

 

52 comments on "WHEN A SPORT DOESN’T VALUE ITS CULTURE"

  1. EastSheen on 21 June 2016

    No mention of cheater Robert Young?

  2. Wayne on 21 June 2016

    Jamie you are sponsoring the biggest cheater in ultra running Robert young. He still wont release the data because if it was “REAL” he would now hold about 6 world records. The guy is a complete fraud and he is raising money through a dodgy US charity that has really shady accounts. If you are really interested in cleaning up sport look in your own backyard mate! Great products by the way! The wider ultra running community know this guy is a cheat – email me if you wants some facts on this guy

  3. Tony Rigdon on 21 June 2016

    Interesting article given that your company continues to standby the obvious cheat, Rob Young. Not only standing by, but from all appearances a Skins employee colluded with Rob Young in their failed attempt at the “world record” crossing of the US. I thought Skins was supposed to be against cheating…

  4. Luke on 21 June 2016

    The fact that you don’t consider Lance Armstrong a cheater is telling. I suppose you don’t consider Rob Young a cheater, either. You, sir, are part of the problem in sport.

  5. Scott M on 21 June 2016

    Take a look at your athlete Robert Young. There is damning evidence that he’s been faking much of his hyped record attempt run across the USA.

  6. Robert Young is a phony on 21 June 2016

    You have no credibility to talk about discipline, integrity, self regulation or respect for the rules.

  7. Matt on 21 June 2016

    Dear Mr Fuller,

    If you truly care about integrity in sport then you would be extremely wise to follow up on the chronic cheating committed by one of your sponsored athletes by the name of Robert Young aka marathonmanuk. Very few of his claims is actually backed up with any evidence.

    He is not only severely undermining the reputation of ultra running but also making a joke out of those who genuinely raise and donate money to charity.

    Matt

  8. R.B.L. on 21 June 2016

    If there was video of Dustin tapping the ball (which there isn’t, but if there was), and Dustin claimed he didn’t touch the ball, would you still believe him, Jamie?

    If there was a pile of evidence (video, data, spreadsheets, maps, graphics, and the inability of someone to do under observation what they claimed) against Robert Young (and there is), do you still believe and endorse that cheater, Jamie?

  9. a concerned citizen on 21 June 2016

    Mr. Fuller,

    You bring up some great points in this post. Please investigate Robert Young’s attempt at the fastest crossing of the U.S. on foot.

    Thank You

  10. Ryan on 21 June 2016

    Interesting perspective from a company that is openly slapping it’s name all over a cheater. Either you want to stand for integrity in sport, or you want the publicity from Robert Young’s “record.” I don’t think you can have both.

  11. Ben on 21 June 2016

    What Mr. Young did is far more severe than poor governance on a golf course. This would be like a golfer skipping 8 or 10 holes and making up a bunch of fake numbers on the score card – while collecting sponsorship and media attention for his feats. I hope SKINS reflects on the impact of this deception to the sport of running as it considers its relationship with Mr. Young.

  12. Mike on 21 June 2016

    You have a very serious problem on your hands, considering a SKINS employee was crew member for Robert Young. You might consider taking action soon, before SKINS is deeply implicated as an accomplice in this farce.

  13. R.B.L. on 21 June 2016

    Jaimie, please forgive me for misspelling your name above. That was unintentional.

    Let me offer the converse of the questions I asked above.

    If there was clear video evidence with the camera zoomed in showing the gap between Dustin’s putter and the ball, wouldn’t you want that to be made public to clear up the whole golf debate?

    If there was gps watch data for Robert Young’s run across the US, wouldn’t you want that to be made public to clear up the whole debate?

    You’re in a very tight spot with Robert Young. You can get yourself and Skins out of this mess with one simple action. Demand that Robert Young release his data immediately. ALL of it, not just some pieces. NO DELAYS, otherwise the data can be manipulated and edited. IMMEDIATE public release of ALL his data. You can demand it.

    If he did what he claimed, you’re off the hook and no longer look like you’re endorsing a cheater. If he didn’t do what he claimed, then you have empirical evidence to void your endorsement of him as a cheater.

  14. Sara on 21 June 2016

    Mr. Fuller-You and the Skins are much worse. You turn a blind eye cheating with one of your athletes, but you do NOTHING. It is insulting when someone pretends to care about the integrity of sports. Your actions, or rather lack of actions make that very clear. I could give you 10 red flags to investigate, but we all know you will do nothing of the sort, as you did not even bother to vet Robert Young. If you had, you would know that he was not a professional cyclist on team Milram, and infact was using a picture of Enrico Poitschke, but claiming that it was him. He claims a 10K PR of 30:47. Really what race was that? He did run 7K in 30:47. If you don’t even bother to put in minimal effort to confirm who represents your company, how is your possible customer base to trust you?

  15. Mimi on 21 June 2016

    SKINS is a disgrace and a big hypocrite by calling out others but when it has a cheater on its payroll, it actively funds them and blocks others from calling out the cheat. I recommend everyone boycott SKINS products.

  16. Tony on 21 June 2016

    It does appear you sponsor on of the biggest cheaters in ultra running. You could have issued a simple statement “It has come to our attention, there is some concern about the early stages…” and within a reasonable timeframe (1 day) released the TomTom data. We both know you could not do that, as sections of the “run” were more of the ride-along. Instead you choose to claim you do not have good internet access, but upload a 10 minute video “how we are recording”…
    SKINS does not value Sports, or honor, or commitment, or integrity. For these reasons, I will not support SKINS anymore.

  17. Jimmy Mcneil on 21 June 2016

    Mr Fuller,

    I congratulate you on supporting your athletes including Robert HP Young who is an outstanding example of someone who seeks to push the boundaries of endurance despite the doubters.

    I salute you and your loyalty towards your carefully chosen athletes

  18. Unbiased Data Analyst on 21 June 2016

    Despite the brigade of Rob Young fanboys who may soon arrive here and disparage us as “doubters”, “jealous”, and “haters” – they have no leg to stand on. Robert Young is pale, fresh as a daisy, watching movies, taking side trips, doing handstands, and covering 80 miles a day early on. As soon as he is taken up on his challenge to “come watch me” – he is a sunburnt, shambling, exhausted, broken man needing all 24 hours per day to cover 40-50 miles.

    The objective data analysis of even one incident is highly conclusive he did not run everything. None of his supporters will even read this or have an intelligent thing to say about it: http://ryinvestigation.blogspot.com

    As a CEO, Mr. Fuller, I trust you are not like them. I trust you can appreciate good data when you see it.

    Imagine if a golfer produced a scorecard with seven double eagles in a row. The golfer is KNOWN to have recorded his round with a GoPro. It is “hating” to request the footage? And why does the golfer refuse to release it do you think, instead acting indignant that he would be questioned for such a feat?

    Forgive us for not believing we will ever see his data, because we know it would convict him – the laws of nature and physiology tell us so, not the law of “well I ran with him once and he’s a nice guy”. The “prove I didn’t, and btw I could prove it if I wanted” line is a common refrain among cheaters:

    http://cdn.letsrun.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/rossigps.png

  19. Suspicious? on 21 June 2016

    Man is accused of not running at a specific location.
    Man spends hours procuring dark, grainy video of a video from a car wash to rebut accusations.
    Man could have just clicked “share” on the GPS recording of his whereabouts that night.

    Yup, nothing suspicious here at all, move along…

  20. Christian Prior on 21 June 2016

    Hi Mr. Fuller,

    There is so much happening in your own company around issues that fans care very much about and I am also talking about your (silent) support of lies, deception and at least questionable “charity” benefits.

    But to right wrongs when it comes to 3rd rate athletes on your roster does probably not create enough of a buzz to deserve attention?

    Pfui!

  21. Bruce T on 21 June 2016

    Jaimie, this whole Robert Young cheating episode is a disaster for the Skins brand. It’s obvious that the first half of his “run” across America is dubious to say the least. When are we going to see the raw data from Robert Young’s “run”?
    Regards,
    Bruce T

  22. Trevor Norman on 21 June 2016

    It’s a real shame that the internet is used as a tool for people to slander and cause defamation of character of an individual or a group of people without no evidence whatsoever!! Robert Young has explained a number of times what he intends to do and will address the sceptics in due course. SkinsUK are a company that uses its great name to improve and bring positive attention to a sport that does not get enough credit in the world of sport. It’s a shame that a small number of trolls that hide behind a screen and fake accounts are allowed any platform to communicate. Skins are a pioneering company and one that is trusted and respected throughout the world. Robert Young as a man is one of the best that you can come to meet, his sporting achievements throughout his life so far have been fantastic, but best of all his efforts have brought attention to children that do not have a voice to be able to speak and see that they can achieve great things, as he has achieved great things despite his early life as a child. I think now is the time for all this trolling to stop and for people to get a life and wait for the data and evidence to be published. Skins, a massive credit to you for standing by your athlete and promoting the positives in sport.

  23. Mike D on 21 June 2016

    This handling of Mr. Young ‘a run by Skins is so disappointing. As an endurance athlete I have a lot of choices when it comes to the brands I use. Supporting an athlete like Mr. Young without critically reviewing his past performances and transcon run makes my decision a little easier. It certainly appears that Mr. Young is not the athlete his is purporting to be. Transparency in this case is very simple — release the data. The fact Mr. Young and Skins isn’t demanding it speaks volumes.

  24. Mike Rossi on 21 June 2016

    Robert Young is a hero and he cured my cancer. You should all be ashamed. I don’t know why everyone is so fast to judge others.

  25. Unbiased Data Analyst on 21 June 2016

    See what I mean, Mr. Fuller. People are ignoring the facts.

    “the internet is used as a tool for people to slander and cause defamation of character of an individual or a group of people without no evidence whatsoever!!”

    Except for all the evidence…
    http://ryinvestigation.blogspot.com
    4 videos of an RV going by at 7mph with no one in sight
    etc. etc etc

  26. Trevor Norman on 21 June 2016

    Unbiased Data Analyst –

    Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem like much evidence there. It just seems like an unattached blog space by someone who wants to hide their identity.

    The true evidence is on Rob’s TomTom and will be made available when he decides. But I like all the effort that has gone into the work. Well done!

  27. James R. on 21 June 2016

    Mr. Fuller- either you’re being intentionally obtuse, or you (and SKINS) are part of the scam. The amount of cheating by Robert Young is blatantly obvious and has been carefully documented. Robert Young still refuses to release easily accessible data that could have exonerated him. If you keep intentionally ignoring the facts, then I’ll be forced to believe that SKINS is part of the scam and knowingly supports fraudulent activities.

  28. Unimpressed Marathon Runner on 21 June 2016

    Mr. Fuller, along with the previous commenters I am astounded that your company has been party to Robert Young’s seemingly fraudulent attempt to set the trans-con record. A little digging from the running community has shown that this man has a track record of exaggerations and untruths amongst his various attempts to further his own celebrity. I would expect that a company such as your own which is setting itself up to stand for sporting integrity would have performed some basic checks on this man before associating your brand with him. I would expect you to be at the front of the queue in demanding he provides full data to evidence is latest claims and, should this not be provided, to distance yourselves from him and provide an apology to the running community. Like many others i will be choosing other brands from now on, this incident having tarnished the SKINS brand severely in my eyes.

  29. David M on 21 June 2016

    SKINS should be embarrassed at the way they handled the Rob Young situation. How implicated were Skins? Did you get your employer to drive the RV to ensure the record for your athlete? Your response has been pathetic. You are alienating customers who will never buy your products if you continually make the wrong decision! Take action to stop cheats on sport!

  30. Luke on 21 June 2016

    Your post touts the idea of self governance in sport. You see, that’s exactly what the running community is doing with the Rob Young case. The running community exposed a cheater, not a governing body. The running community has amassed the overwhelming data, not a drug lab. The running community came together to maintain the integrity of this great sport.

  31. Ken on 21 June 2016

    Is this suppose to be a thinly guised parallel to Robert Young ? If so it misses the mark. Robert Young has repeatedly lied, so he is not extended the benefit of the doubt. I would hope you are aware of his lies.
    “I was a professional cyclist.” The picture was Enrico Poitschke (Ger) Team Milram.
    His first weeks of running-directly contradict his book.
    His Mapmyruns are not actually different runs, simply clones/copies down 6 decimal places.
    10k PR of 30 minutes.
    His domain for Marathonman UK was started BEFORE his “I did 3 marathons on a whim”
    2/3 of his twitter “followers” are fake / purchased
    same with facebook “Turkey”
    Yes his claims are questionable, because he has lied. The first half of his run across America is filled with questionable results. 85 mile day, then playing soccer or sight seeing? Did you happen to see him? Pasty white and a couple of stone heavy. As soon as someone comes to watch him run, he struggles to WALK 40 to 50 miles, and is so exhausted he has to rest every couple of hours? Really want to get some publicity and raise money for charity? Have him replicate (Pace and Mileage) the first 2 1/2 of weeks of his running, observed. I will donate 1000 dollars if he could simple match those “incredible” days,

  32. Eve Thompson on 21 June 2016

    I was first introduced to SKINS about 6 years ago in Australia where I worked at a running shoe store. I thought the Rep was awesome and we had the chance to trial SKINS before they retailed.

    Thought it was a neat and reputable brand.

    I think continuing your silence on this whole Robert Young fiasco is going to have very negative consequences for your company. When I saw the SKINS logo on this cheating attempt I figured he had just slapped a few logos on his social media platforms without permission.

    After I realized it was an actual sponsorship my first reaction was “noooo! why!”. SKINS was such a cool experience for me in Australia I don’t want you guys to be associated with scandal! Please please get out in front of this while there is still time!!

  33. SayerOfCheaterCheater on 21 June 2016

    Rob Young is a cheater, cheater pumpkin eater! The evidence is piling up on letsrun, go have a look for yourself!

  34. Mike W on 21 June 2016

    Your article is a joke, given your continued support for the obviously fraudulent “athlete”, Mr marathonmanuk Robert Young. I’ll be honest and say that I had never heard of the Skins brand before seeing the name plastered all over this guy’s RV, but if this is the kind of “integrity” your company champions I would never ever consider buying a single one of its products.

  35. Jason Conley on 22 June 2016

    Mr. Fuller,

    I have always appreciated your company’s stance on ethics in sports, which makes your support of Robert Young all the more disappointing. His dishonesty and blatant disrespect to the sport of running is egregious in and of itself, but to couple this offensive sham with claims of doing it for the benefit of children is truly beyond the pale. When someone is found to be dishonest about such important matters, it truly calls into question everything he or she claims. I can only hope that Skins will do the right thing, take responsibility and denounce this travesty. Until then, you can rest assured that your company will be boycotted by the growing masses who are learning what Robert Young truly stands for.

  36. SKINS is in on it on 22 June 2016

    SKINS employee lying through his teeth:

    https://www.facebook.com/marathonmanuk/videos/1024241607660097/

    He claims after the incident (~1:53-2:00AM), they returned to the spot and continued running. Why then, is Mr. Young still not seen at 2:14AM??https://goo.gl/photos/v9acQgrTtmvtXw9F8

    Where is Rob?? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMPyL4Do9mM

    And “he fell off the pace and fell back” is the “excuse” for the Emporia video a couple hours earlier, not valid this time.

  37. R.B.L. on 22 June 2016

    Jaimie,

    Now I understand why you have not un-endorsed Robert Young and distanced yourself from the scandal. I overlooked the fact that Skins’ own digital marketer (Michael Speicher) is half of the two-man crew assisting Robert in this scam.

    I quote from the Skins website about Michael Speicher’s role:
    “it’s thanks to his [Rob’s] crew – friend and copywriter Dustin Brooks and SKINS digital marketer Michael Speicher – that he’s done as well as he has so far. Together, Dustin and Michael share the responsibility of driving the campervan, recording data, taking photographs and videos. . . .”
    https://www.skins.net/intl/marathon-man-uk-the-fastest-crossing-so-far/

    So your own employee was part of the scam giving Robert rides in the R.V. And your own employee is withholding the data about this alleged run.

    The only way Skins can separate from this scandal now is to (1) un-endorse Robert Young and cut him off from your payroll; and (2) fire Michael Speicher for his role in this scam.

  38. Mark Radomsky on 22 June 2016

    SKINS talks the talk, but they certainly don’t walk the walk when it comes to cheating and fraud perpetrated by their employees and sponsored athletes. The fact that you have done nothing in the wake of the Robert Young scandal tells me all that I need to know about your company.

    Robert Young pays Facebook and Twitter for fake followers. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that he and Dustin are frantically scrambling to find somebody willing and able to doctor their GPS data to cover their blatant cheating.

    It takes only a couple of clicks to upload all of the data. If it were legit, they would have posted it a long time ago. Take a stand and demand that they post it IMMEDIATELY!

  39. K Stillman on 22 June 2016

    I’m very disappointed in the lack of integrity displayed by yourself and your company.

    By doing nothing, you are openly endorsing these cheating frauds. As another poster said, you need to disown the entire RV crew, fire Michael Speicher and cease any and all affiliation with Robert Young.

    Time for him to grow up, get a real job and start acting like a father-figure to HIS kids.

  40. SKINS is in on it on 22 June 2016

    Mr. Fuller,

    Your employee Mr. Speicher is also a bad liar. First, he claims Rob Young was indeed running but they were “scared” and drove away.

    https://www.facebook.com/marathonmanuk/videos/1024241607660097/

    Then, he claims Rob was not seen but by the individual posting videos online (Asher Delmott) because the RV accidentally drove away from him.

    https://www.facebook.com/marathonmanuk/videos/1026629384087986/

    Cannot even keep the story straight… But I guess it was a good deal for you guys – none of his supporters seem to notice or care and he generates a lot of publicity…

  41. SKINS Values and History on 22 June 2016

    Here is your athlete “handling him with honesty and integrity”:

    https://imgur.com/D2L886q

    We had no way of knowing at the time, but the whole ESPN thing was a lie. Proven by citizen video and surveillance video that came out in the days after this statement.

    So the story goes from “ESPN was right there with me”, to “oh, no, I was scared and ran away” to “oh, never mind, no what happened is the RV left me behind so I wasn’t with it”.

  42. Brenton on 22 June 2016

    Wow, so much negativity aimed at a man who has done so much to clean up many sporting organisations & their cheating cultures.
    Give the man a chance to get to the bottom of this Rob Young saga, I can assure you he will & I can also ensure you he will do it with integrity & honesty.
    Keep up the great work Jaimie, your achievements to date have made the sporting world a much more honest one.

  43. An unimpressed runner on 22 June 2016

    So what I infer from your support of Robert Young is that SKINS is for cheaters. You support cheating and you don’t care about evidence.

    I’ve never bought any of your products and now it’s certain that I never, ever will.

    You should be ashamed of having your product associated with such a fraud.

  44. Michael Steven on 22 June 2016

    Well…. this didn’t go as planned for Skins now did it? Maybe you were hoping to make a splash in the US, increase your marketshare to the ultrarunning crowd with this amazing feat? And your boy cheated, now what? How do you save face? I’ll be interested to see how you run with this.

  45. Rob on 22 June 2016

    Mr Fuller – You have an opportunity to show integrity, and to uphold your corporate values and code of conduct. It is unbelievable that Robert runs 80 miles a day, 500 plus of those miles sub 7, and has an abundance of energy to go sight seeing, and to cartwheels and play soccer…..BUT once he has someone to observe him, his mileage drops to 40-50 of walking? Not another sub 7 mile recorded? Sir-I honestly hope you do an honest investigation, in doing so you restore faith in SKINS, and make it clear that SKINS was not part of this.

  46. Robert Johnson on 22 June 2016

    I find it ironic that you write, “Discipline, self-regulation, integrity, respect for the rules. It helps set golf apart from other sports. A bit like the SKINS brand!”

    And yet you sponsor Robert Young? At least make him turn over the TomTom data immediately.

  47. Majic on 22 June 2016

    I have trashed my SKINS running gear. I am not a cheater. Have a quality day.