I cannot wrap my head around the "He's doing it for the kids" excuse. This is the theory, right? That the scales of morality tipped in his favor, at least in his mind? That "winning" (albeit by cheating) a few marathons at age 70 is such a tremendous model of accomplishment for under-priveledged kids that the genuine inspiration they feel justifies/mitigates/negates/compensates for the cheater's moral bankruptcy and deceitfulness? Hmm. Not buying it. Though that might be the cheater's JUSTIFICATION, it's not his actual psychological MOTIVATION.
Rather, I suggest three possible motivations (or combination thereof)—all of which are far less rational, far more Id-driven than the hypothesis above.
1) The "Ha-ha! I'll show 'em!" Theory.
FBI agent Robert Hanssen was one of America's worst traitors, and one of the greatest spies for the USSR. His treachery spilled invaluable secrets, including the identities of pro-USA agents within the Kremlin—operatives who were murdered thanks to Hanssen's revelations. Why did he do it? Greed? Well, he made some money, sure... but not fortunes, and certainly not enough to justify his actions. Did he hate America? No, not really, not directly. Rather (psychologists surmise), Hanssen's massive ego was badly bruised when others got promoted above him, when "less intelligent" agents rose faster, and when he didn't amass the bounteous glory he thought he deserved. So he spied -- as a kind of "Up Yours!" to his undeserved bosses. It stroked his ego that he was somehow smarter and cleverer than the rest.
Might FM not suffer a similarly toxic ego (on an admittedly smaller scale)? This is amateur conjecture, mind you, but perhaps 5'4” FM—who despite his many actual accomplishments—was never very fast, never authentically athletic, never really cool. Many of his wards at Loyola were champions; his heralded pal/boss Coach Lalo Diaz had been a state champion too... and maybe Frank just wanted some of that glory himself. After all, HE was the doctor, HE had risen from an impoverished background, HE devoted himself to charity. But THEY’RE the champions, the exalted privileged few heading off to Berkeley and Princeton and Stanford. Perhaps Dr. M felt he deserved more… and he was going to grab some of that athletic prestige, some muscular celebrity to match his other accomplishments, one way or the other.
It worked; he “won” and his ego got duly stroked. Frank loved to tell tales of his amazing athletic accomplishments to students, teachers, parents, you name it (indeed, he managed to drop it into the first conversation he and I ever had). As much as human competitiveness can motivate achievement, perhaps the twisted version of it—the fragile (male) ego, hungry and hurt, blinded by desire and fueled by jealousy—can drive us to FALSE achievement, too.
2) The "Addiction" Theory.
The first time he cheated (I speculate), it was insignificant and minor… perhaps even an accident. He cut a course, he forgot to repeat the loop, whatever. And he practically imploded with nervousness and fear at being discovered. His heart raced, his blood pressure soared, his skin crawled… and nothing happened. He got away with it. He had cheated, and he hadn’t got caught. What a thrill! What a rush! It was intoxicating… so he did it again. And again, and again, and again. Of course, in order to chase the high, the risks had to get bigger and bigger… which means the times had to get faster and faster, and the cheating had to get more and more elaborate. And so a serial cheater was created.
Sound far-fetched? How different is this from serial philanderers, or serial gamblers, or serial adrenaline junkies… or just plain old junkies, for that matter? We all have our vices—some large, some small. Regardless, vices are deliciously, capriciously, ambitiously, viciously stimulating; if they weren’t… well, they wouldn’t be vices, would they? Far more than we acknowledge, I suspect, human nature is driven by “addictions”—to news, to crossword puzzles, to exercise, to whatever gets our rocks off, so to speak… including cheating.
3) The "Why does the dog...?" Theory.
Why? Because he can. Perhaps FM, like the dog, figured out how to get away with it, so he figured “What the hell?” There didn’t seem to be any negative consequences (till now), so the heck with it. Just do it, to coin a phrase. Why did Bernie Madoff cheat all those investors? Screw ‘em, that’s why. (Forgive the politics here, but) Why has Trump racked up 10,000+ lies in 2.5 years ? Because overall, let’s face it, it’s worked. He’s been lying his whole life—and became president (and still enjoys 80% approval among Republicans)! Why stop now??
Why do people speed, or roll through STOP signs, or cheat on their taxes, or fudge their expense reports, or cheat on their spouses? Because in the right circumstances, why not? A policeman once told me that (sadly only) 10% of the population would NEVER cheat, 10% would cheat no matter what… and 80% would cheat given the right conditions.
Maybe that’s what happened to FM. Maybe the mystery is far simpler than imagined. Maybe he felt an itch one day, and he scratched. Then he just kept on scratching.