Doug Glanville played Major League Baseball from 1996 to 2004, right at the heart of the "Steroids Era". I found this article of his particularly insightful.
At the heart of Optimal Training is the distinction between being "the best" and being "your best". The problem lies in how the rewards for success are doled out. We certainly get rewarded when we do "our best". We gain confidence, we expand our horizons, we inspire others, and we learn from the journey to reach that point. All great things. But they don't pay the bills.
Material rewards, the kind you can pay your mortgage with, go to the person who is "the best". In fact, the rewards for being "almost the best" are significantly less than those for "the best" (The Economics of Superstars). The second best player during Michael Jordan's era didn't get nearly the salary, endorsements, or fame that MJ did. Thinking of runners, I'd be very curious to know the difference in earnings between Kenenisa Bekele and Zersenay Tadesse or Sileshi Sihine. Or even Ryan Hall and Brian Sell.
In any case, I believe this is really a question of how an individual deals with failure (or even the potential for failure). What makes one person capable of making the daily choice to accept "her best" whether it is enough or not, and another person incapable of accepting that kind of (potential) "failure"?
Obviously there is no one answer. How an individual arrives at that point and makes their decision is the result of multiple causes, all of which are interrelated and go back throughout their personal history. But I can't help but sit here and think that if everyone adopted an Optimal Training mindset -- if they really took the Optimal Training Principles to heart -- we would see people much more prepared to avoid the shortcuts, accept failures as opportunities, and preserve the integrity of whatever it is they are doing.
Because in the end, if you don't have your integrity, what do you have?