past event

SOF Forum: Ethics in Sports: What’s Fair to Expect Today in the Pursuit of Victory?

In collaboration with the Aspen Institute’s Sports and Society Program.
This half-day interactive program will feature athletes and sports industry experts who will address some of the most prominent ethical dilemmas surrounding sports today. Discussion topics will include: What is the line between doping and sports medicine, and why do some athletes, coaches, and teams cross the line? What steps are being taken to ensure fair competition, and how fair is fair enough? To what degree are brains on the line in athletic competition today? What can be done to better protect athletes from traumatic brain injuries and accelerate their recoveries? Is there trouble in the way youth sports are run today? From club sports to intercollegiate sports, are we preparing young athletes for optimal health, performance, and ethical development? If not, who is to blame? What work remains to be done to ensure that participation in sports yields the greatest benefits to players and society-at-large? This series of moderated conversations will grapple with these difficult quandaries and aim to bring a variety of perspectives to the table on what is fair in modern sport events.


Lance Armstrong is an American former professional cyclist. In 1997, Armstrong founded the Lance Armstrong Foundation, focusing on support for those affected by cancer. The foundation has raised hundreds of millions of dollars through its ‘Livestrong’ campaign to continue the fight against cancer. Armstrong was also part of the founding core for Athletes for Hope, a charity organization that enables professional athletes to be involved in charitable causes.

Gretchen Bleiler
 is a 2-time Olympian and Olympic Silver medalist, World Superpipe Champion and 4-time X Games gold medalist. Gretchen has been inducted into The Sportswomen of Colorado Hall of Fame and The Action Sports Hall of Fame. She is the winner of the ESPY award for Best Female Action Sports Athlete and National Geographic Adventurer of the Year. Gretchen has used her platform to advocate for women in sports and for the environment.

Dr. Robert Cantu is a Clinical Professor in the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Clinical Diagnostics and Therapeutics Leader AD and CTE Center, at the Boston University School of Medicine, and Medical Director and Director of Clinical Research, Dr. Robert C. Cantu Concussion Center, Emerson Hospital.  He has authored over 400 scientific publications, including 32 books on neurology and sports medicine, in addition to numerous book chapters, peer-reviewed papers, abstracts and free communications, and educational videos. He has served as associate editor of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise and Exercise and Sports Science Review, and on the editorial board of The Physician and Sports Medicine, Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, and Journal of Athletic Training.

Tom Farrey leads the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program, whose mission is to convene leaders, facilitate dialogue and inspire solutions that help sports serve the public interest. He is the founder of Project Play, a multi-year, multi-stage effort that provides the thought leadership for sport to build healthy communities, starting with universal access to an early positive experience in sports. Farrey is also a veteran journalist whose work has been recognized as among the nation’s best and most innovative. With ESPN, his television stories have won the 2014 Alfred I. Dupont/Columbia University Award, 2013 Edward R. Murrow Award, and two Emmy Awards. His reports have appeared on Outside the Lines, SportsCenter, ABC World News Tonight, Good Morning America, and This Week with George Stephanopolous. He is author of Game On: The All-American Race to Make Champions of Our Children.

Jon Frankel is a news correspondent for HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, a show that takes a unique look at athletics and the surrounding issues that affect the games and its athletes. He has over 20 years of experience in sports journalism as a correspondent for networks including CBS, ABC News, NBC News, and USA Network. Frankel is also the producer of four documentaries including ESPN documentary Two Points, One Title, and Tribeca Film Festival feature HELLFIGHTERS: A Season in Harlem.

Angie Franks is Vice President, Market Development at SportsEngine, and is responsible for all product management, marketing, and customer success activities. SportsEngine is an online platform recently acquired by NBC Sports that works to improve accessibility and accountability in youth sports.

Risa Isard joined the Sports & Society Program at the Aspen Institute in June 2014 and is co-author of Project Play’s physical literacy report. Prior to her role at the Institute, she served as the community relations coordinator for the Fresno Grizzlies, then the Triple-A Affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. Isard graduated cum laude from Duke University with a specialized degree in “Social Change at the Intersection of Culture, Gender, and Sports.” A long-time advocate of using sports as a platform for social change, Isard has been published on espnW and Generation W.

Chris Kluwe is a former American football punter, writer, and commentator. He played for the Seattle Seahawks and spent eight season with the Minnesota Vikings where he set eight individual team records. Kluwe is an undaunted advocate for several social issues within and outside of the sports industry including gay rights and equality within the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He is the author of Beautiful Unique Sparkleponies: On Myths, Morons, Free Speech, Football, and Assorted Absurdities.

Jonathan Vaughters stepped away from a successful career as a professional cyclist in 2003 to foster ethical competition and the next generation of champions. He is the founder of the global organization, Slipstream Sports, which today runs the Cannondale Pro Cycling Team – a top American professional cycling team, boasting some of the sport’s best athletes. Vaughters created the most progressive anti-doping system in the professional sports word and cycling’s first independent anti-doping testing program. Other teams took notice and instituted their own independent, anti-doping programs. Cycling’s governing body, the UCI, got on board and instituted a mandatory biological-profiling program for professional cycling, now known as the Biological Passport program. Vaughters proved to the world that clean teams can win at the Tour de France, as his organization has taken the podium for best team overall, won multiple coveted Yellow Jerseys, and placed six riders in the top 10 of the Tour de France since its inception in 2008.

Agenda for Ethics in Sports Forum: What’s Fair to Expect Today in the Pursuit of Victory?
Featuring Lance Armstrong, Gretchen Bleiler, Dr. Robert Cantu, Chris Kluwe, Tom Farrey, Angie Franks, Risa Isard, and Jonathan Vaughters

9:30 a.m. — 10:15 a.m.
Activism: Can Athletes be Agents of Change?
We talk with athletes who have used their prominence to advance conversation around social and environmental issues – an Olympic snowboarder who has been active on climate change, former cyclist whose foundation focused on cancer patients, and a former NFL player who says he lost his job for speaking out in favor of same-sex marriage. What have they learned about exercising an athlete’s voice?

  • Lance Armstrong
  • Gretchen Bleiler
  • Chris Kluwe
  • Moderator Tom Farrey

10:15 a.m. – 10:25 a.m.
Break with Nourishment Hub.

10:25 a.m. – 11:10 a.m.
To Russia With No Love: Where Now on Anti-Doping?
Evidence that the regime of Vladimir Putin engaged in state-sponsored doping hangs in the air of the Rio Olympics where most Russian athletes have been allowed to compete. What is the solution to creating a playing field that’s open to those without chemical enhancement?

  • Gretchen Bleiler
  • Jonathan Vaughters
  • Moderator Jon Frankel

11:10 a.m. – 11:55 a.m.
Football and Contact Sports: When to put brains, bodies on the line
A new survey shows that 4 in 5 Americans say kids should not play tackle football. We explore the latest science and what leading neurologists in the field of sports and traumatic brain injuries and a former NFL player have to say about the risks and potential solutions involved.

  • Robert Cantu
  • Chris Kluwe
  • Moderator Tom Farrey

11:55 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Participants get lunch in foyer and bring into McNulty for final panel.

12:15 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Youth Sports: How to Give Kids what they Want, Need
Abusive coaches. Excessive costs. Overuse injuries. Burnout. Youth sports has no shortage of challenges. We explore the role of technology and other forms of innovation in improving quality and growing access.

  • Robert Cantu
  • Angie Franks
  • Moderator Risa Isard

Cost: $75/participant

Event information
Fri Aug 12, 2016
9:30am - 1:00pm GMT+0000
Doerr-Hosier Center
Aspen, CO