The con-artist recently known as Lance Armstrong, originally known as Lance Edward Gunderson, has played nolo contendre and placed himself among the ranks of such other ethical stalwarts as Spiro Agnew.
In general, cheating for profit and benefits is fraud, fraud is a crime, and perpetrators of crime are prosecuted. That's a pretty standard approach in the civilized world; the fact that it is not always followed does not make it less valid.
This particular scammer enlarged his game beyond the initial hustle. He levelled-up to build a heroic narrative out of his cancer recovery and made himself into a cause and a hero for everybody that has had somebody fighting cancer (which is a universal condition).
In making himself the person who takes a stand against cancer (a fairly safe proposition), he has played on the emotions of millions to establish his brand and his sinecure.
These are the successful metaphysical Ponzi schemes, the cults that become Too Big To Fail, the once-marginal beliefs that move into the mainstream and demand to be treated with the same respect as all other belief systems. Whereas economic Ponzi schemes can be found out through accounting, there's no challenging a metaphysical Ponzi scheme because it's in the realm of belief, and we have freedom of belief.
When it works, it's the con man's climbing the Mount Everest of Moral Equivalence, it's L. Ron Hubbard saying, treat my believers just like the Jews, Christians, and Muslims, because - hey, who's to say? After the denouement, the True Believers will aver, Sure he's done wrong, but he's done a lot of good. Google Jimmy Swaggart.
The puzzle is, how do we engage otherwise good, intelligent, honorable people who subscribe to these narratives? Do we marginalize them as marks and suckers? Do we treat them as misguided but well-intentioned? Do we respect their beliefs, hold our noses and disregard what we know of their weltanschauung?
It's pretty easy to not care about Tom Cruise's religion. It's understandable to consider the belief structure of a person wearing magic underwear who also wants to be in charge of nuclear weapons. It offends me to see a con-man hustling yellow rubber bands, hawking membership-identity-affinity paraphernalia, and playing on the emotions of cancer patients and their families.
To me, that's the true fraud of Lance Gunderson, and I believe he is yet to be held accountable for it. We note for the record that LiveStrong doesn't contribute any money at all for cancer research. None.