Updated: Feb 15
This article was produced by simracingloft.com
A few weeks ago a fairly popular sim racing league made a fairly public scene when it announced that it was kicking a fairly well-known driver out of its league for cheating (all parties will remain nameless, we don’t encourage canceling people here). The league chose to name the driver in a public forum and banish him into the abyss all while presenting no evidence or background of the cheating allegations. After spending a few hours digging into what turned into a throwing of tomatoes at the pillory, we aren’t so sure that this was handled the best way.
For the league, it has given them an eerie resemblance to the NCAA, an organization known for handing down arbitrary punishments without much cause (they are universally hated in the USA and are nearing irrelevance) and for the driver, well he has been made out to be a scoundrel despite the little information floating around.
For the record, we are all for removing the cheaters. We do not have a problem with this league making their decision public, however, we do have an issue with the way this league went about making its statement. The league stated that they needed to set a precedent that is also 100% acceptable, where they went wrong was naming the individual being made precedent of. Had they explained that it underwent review or how they had come to the decisions, this may have not had been such a heated debate however they chose to use their platform to defame an individual without suggesting merit which could in return be seen as libel (we’re not sure how the laws work in the UK but in the USA this is a grey area).
We understand that this league has an obligation to its members to remove those with ill intentions, however, they have no obligation to air out the league's dirty laundry. Should they or any league for that matter choose to let the world in on their dirt, they should feel obligated to use their platform in a fair and professional manner.
How Fellow Drivers Should Deal with Cheaters
Beat the cheaters and raise their children as your own... just kidding. As a fellow driver, your job is fairly simple, basically, it's an "observe and report" type of situation. But, we have a few suggestions for you so that you don't end up crying wolf or toxifying your league. Believe it or not, even someone trying to do the right thing can soil an environment and it's better to sacrifice a bit of patience than it is to jump the gun.
Organize your evidence
Let it happen again (we know this will ruffle some feathers)
Follow your league's process
Running to your leagues HQ and puking out a big long paragraph of jibberish isn't going to help anyone or solve your problem. Take your time, sit down and write down what you saw or what evidence you have step by step. If you have a video clip, document the time date and write a step by step commentary for whoever will be reviewing it. DO NOT DO A VOICE OVER, clear audio is important. If you come across another type of evidence write down how you found it or how it came into your possession, when, and where it happened then move on to the next step.
Let It Happen Again
We get it this part is hard and some of you are screaming at your computer screens saying this guy is an idiot but hear me out. The more evidence you have the better your case gets argued. If you can catch the suspected cheater in the act twice and collect the evidence to prove it (ideally on two different tracks) your case is that much stronger.
Follow Your League's Protest Process
If your league doesn't have an outlined protest or reporting process, stop what you're doing, quit that league, and go find a real one to race in. If your league doesn't have a process for things like this then it isn't a league that cares about its drivers. If it does have a process, follow it. Don't go running your mouth off in the discord or telling everyone about it. Let the process run its course. If the league fails to act on it, trust your gut and either keep racing or leave the league. Unless you have 100% foolproof evidence, it will rarely work in your favor to be a whistle-blower and squeal to the other drivers (this does not apply to real-world situations if you come across some bad stuff in the real world report it to the proper authorities).
How Leagues Should Deal with Cheaters
Enacting punishment especially one as serious as barring someone from competition shouldn’t be taken lightly and it for damn sure shouldn’t be something enacted without a process. We’re not saying that this is the only way to go about dealing with cheaters but it should keep you and your league from dealing with immense scrutiny:
If you haven’t already, establish a review process and define resulting outcomes
Document, and then document your documents
If you must, make a public but refined statement
Establish a Process
Processes provide three major benefits in any league or business. First, they display organization and legitimacy which goes a long way when you find yourself under public scrutiny. Second, they promote consistency within your organization, while you cannot guarantee every outcome will be the same, you can at least ensure that each situation is put through the same paces. Third and finally, they give you a leg to stand on when the public comes for you.
We’re not going to tell you exactly how your process should work, but we are here to give you a few key pieces that every review process involving punishment needs:
Who, what, and how the process is triggered
Minimum evidence needed to warrant a review
Specified review duration (don’t rush decisions but don’t drag them out)
A defined review rubric each reviewer must follow
Establish final decision-makers (dictatorship or competition committee)
Include an opportunity to appeal (optional but fair)
There are likely a dozen more key item’s that we didn’t list but if you can nail these 6 you will save yourself some hassle.
From the moment that cheating is reported or suspected, you need to start writing things down. This is so crucial because if you don’t and you get caught with your pants down when someone ends up presenting counter-evidence that you cannot reasonably dispute, you and your league will lose credibility. Once you have everything documented, put it all in one place so that everyone responsible for reviewing the complaint has equal access to it. Once a ruling has been made you can present the evidence to the accused in order to allow them a fair appeal should you choose to allow appeals.
Making a Public Statement
This is by far the riskiest aspect of the entire ordeal. When you make a public statement you’re putting your brand reputation at risk and yourself at legal risk (depending on your choice of words). While we favor keeping most driver bans in house and discussing it with all participants in a closed-door meeting, there are times when a public statement makes sense.
Here’s how we suggest you do it:
(Disclaimer: When we say “public announcement” we mean just that, the general public as in fans and people not directly associated with your league. You should certainly discuss most of this with your drivers in a private setting at your own discretion.)
Only make a public statement if the situation warrants it (using your platform to defame is bad. Also statements don’t set precedence, actions do and not all actions need a public announcement.)
Keep it short and to the point (exclude emotion, don’t make it personal)
Don’t name names unless it started a public affair (think Daniel Abt or Kyle Larson like situations)
Do not present your evidence or how you obtained it, but let them know that you have it. Include that the evidence was thoroughly reviewed.
Include the extent of the ban
Example (excluding driver name):
“There has been an incident within our league that has resulted in the suspension of one of our drivers. After a thorough review of the evidence presented to our review committee, it has been determined that a member of our league violated league rules and has been suspended indefinitely. *Insert league values or ethics standards*”.
Example (Including driver name):
“The recent incident involving *insert driver name* has undergone an extensive review in which all presented evidence was thoroughly examined. It has been determined that a violation of league rules has taken place and as a result, an indefinite suspension has been handed down. *Insert league values or ethics standards*”.
There are thousands of words that get your statement out in a professional manner. Your statement shouldn’t be used as a tool to make an example.
The only thing you owe your fans is a good and honest product, sift your dirt internally. If your process is sound and your punishment is firm then the actions you take will be example enough for your drivers to understand.
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