"I won't divulge names but one sprinter, who doped with impunity, told me: 'For several years, I was coming fourth or fifth despite training as hard as I could. Yet I knew that the people beating me weren't training as hard nor did they have the same athletic capacity.' "
So the sprinter doped -- with the "leveling the playing field" argument used by many sportsmen, including Ben Johnson's coach Charlie Francis, who said the disgraced Canadian was left with no alternative given the riddled nature of athletics at the time he was winning, then losing, the 1988 Olympic 100 meters final.
The plunge into drugs is also tempting because it tends to lead to ever-increasing fortunes, with better performances leading to better results and hence greater earnings.
"If you use drugs, it's because you want a shortcut -- a shortcut to everything," says South African athlete Hezekiel Sepeng, a silver medalist at the 1996 Olympics whose career ended in controversy when he tested positive for an anabolic steroid.
"Once you start winning, sponsors will be attracted and then money will come. It is an easy way to make money. Some athletes will dope for four to five years without being caught and will make a lot of money in that time," the former 800m specialist, now 38, told CNN.
"The big problem in South Africa is that our sportsmen compare themselves internationally. They are young, they've heard about doping and their mind tells them that they need drugs to beat the rest -- it's all about meeting goals and people wanting quick money."
Pre-USADA, Armstrong had amassed a $70 million fortune according to Forbes magazine, while fellow American Marion Jones had several multimillion-dollar sponsorship deals before the sprinter's drug admission prompted her supersonic fall from grace.
At the other end of the scale, lying to earn more money is rampant in African football, where countless "promising" players have concocted false -- and younger -- ages in a bid to appear more enticing to any potential Western suitors (and thus secure a way out of poverty).
This year Somalia was thrown out of the 2013 African Under-17 Championship qualifiers, while Niger was disqualified from the 2009 tournament for fielding a 22-year-old and its host Nigeria dropped several of its squad following age tests.
While that might seem an almost understandable form of cheating, the infamous actions of Soviet pentathlete Boris Onishchenko at the 1976 Olympics are anything but.
The three-time Soviet world champion employed sophisticated skulduggery as he rewired his epee so that it would score points when it did not deserve to, as he tried to turn the silver medal he had won four years previously into gold.
His "desire to win at all costs" earned him the nickname "Dis-Onishchenko" -- though little was heard of him after the Montreal Games.
It is unclear whether Onischenko had acted with the help of the Soviet team, a subject that had great relevance at the time given the ideological battles -- and sporting subterfuge -- of the Cold War.
Onischenko aside, the 1976 Olympics were also notable for the second-place finish in the medal table achieved by East Germany.
A country of just 16 million, it was one of the dominant powers in sports such as swimming and track in the 1970s and early '80s -- which was later explained by the state-sponsored doping system that was uncovered after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Many athletes were unwittingly doped, with British newspaper The Guardian reporting in 2005 that an estimated 800 later suffered serious health issues. The most public face of the scandal was Heidi Krieger, a female shot-putter who was given so many steroids that she later opted to have a sex change and is today known as Andreas.
While East Germany's rulers felt sporting glory suitably reflected the successes of their political ideology, so prompting their top-down approach, soccer star Diego Maradona did it the other way -- waging war, quite literally, single-handed.
After his "Hand of God" goal in the 1986 World Cup helped Argentina beat England, one of football's all-time greats justified his deception by referencing his country's unhappiness over the 1982 Falklands War. Argentina lay claim to the islands, which it calls Las Malvinas, over which the British have sovereignty.
As clearly seen, the pressure to succeed often takes sportsmen and women into unexpected territory. We are often told that tiny factors make the difference in top-level sports, yet the measures used to gain them are often anything but insignificant.