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Do Athletes Deceive ... or Are We Just Gullible?

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

— Mark Twain

Many of our greatest athletic champions come from dark, needy places. It’s a Faustian bargain inconvenient to acknowledge: The qualities that empower the truly elite athletes — ruthless drive, narcissistic focus, competitive obsession — are characteristics we’d find repulsive outside athletics. Incandescent in their sports, some of the greatest athletes I’ve ever met and covered are simply pedestrian as human beings.

That’s why the alternative narratives begin to distract from — if not completely paper over — the less savory realities. It usually starts small, ranging from better versions of the truth to outright lies, but legends grow...

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