Justice Department prosecutors and the FBI are investigating Major League Baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals for possibly hacking a Houston Astros’ database to steal information about players.   An investigation, of course, is not synonymous with guilt and the facts will come out over time.

The New York Times reported that “Law enforcement officials believe the hacking was executed by vengeful front-office employees for the Cardinals hoping to wreak havoc on the work of Jeff Luhnow, the Astros’ general manager, who had been a successful and polarizing executive with the Cardinals until 2011.”

Reports of hacking for purposes of industrial espionage are unexceptional in the Internet era, but an allegation of hacking by a professional sports team to steal trade secrets has been unheard of until now.  Professional sports, of course, are periodically tarnished by cheating, as shown by well-publicized recent incidents involving the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots of the National Football League, steroid usage in bicycling and Major League Baseball, and corruption in soccer.

What is most surprising about the allegations pertaining to the St. Louis Cardinals is that the team has traditionally been one of the most successful franchises in Major League Baseball, with numerous World Series wins.  But, then again, the same can be said about the New England Patriots.

An impressionable 12-year-old might well infer that unethical behavior–or even illegal behavior–is the way to succeed.

In any sport, including horse racing, integrity is a fragile and perishable concept.  Every notorious incident chips away at the sport’s reservoir of good will amongst the public.

Horse racing, especially, will always have a precarious standing with its customers and the general public because gambling money and horse welfare are involved.  This is the best argument for why horse racing needs uniform rules of conduct across the states that are strictly enforced in a consistent manner.  Medication and in-race whipping are two key components.

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