There are many different forms of "good sportsmanship". I guess that the main thing that people think of when considering cheating or breaking rules these days is with drugs. I am not belittling the role of antidoping (in fact, even though I was only in Spain for three days for the recent World 100k championships, I was tested on 2 separate occasions - both blood and urine tests), but there are other situations when you can find yourself questioning what the "right" thing to do is.
I would like to think that I would never knowingly break a rule in a race, and would expect to be pulled up on it if I did, but what do you do if you see someone else doing this? It would be more forgiveable if it was the first time someone had raced at that level, but at a World Championships there is a technical meeting the day before the race, when rules are explained to the national support teams and runners are also aware of what can and cannot be done.
Recently, I had to make just that very decision - I heard another runner arranging to meet their support crew and pick up things outwith the regulated feed stations on the course. These feed stations are every 5km on the 100k course, so it isn't as if they are few and far between as they were in the World Trails. These feed/support points are in place to ensure that nobody is advantaged/or disadvantaged by having differing numbers of support crew available to help them in the race.
Deciding what to do...
While it upset my race at the time (as I ran faster than I had planned to run in order to make sure that I saw the arranged "out of station" support, and was so surprised by it that I dropped my own gel and hence went 20K between taking one and getting the next one ), I doubt it affected my overall result, but I did think that it might have affected others and so had to decide what to do. Do you comment at the time to the support crew/runner that is breaking the rules? Do you keep quiet and hope they keep offending and have others witness it? Do you wait until the race is over and then lodge a protest? Or do you hope that the individual does "the right thing" by holding up their hand, confessing to it, and apologising?
Bear in mind that you have to make these decisions while trying to execute your own race, and all protests must be lodged within 30mins of finishing the race - and many runners are not in a fit state to think coherently at such a time. Unlike with a "police offence", a "running offence" does not go on your record for the future, so it's something that must be dealt with at the time. What would you do?
Team discussion and resolution ;-)
In the end, I made what I think was the "right" decision for me - I didn't protest, but spoke to my team manager and the manager of the other runner to ensure that they were aware the breach had been noticed and to get an apology for those whose result might have been affected. This was well handled and done in person, so hopefully saved any embarrassment all round - all's well that ends well and we all had a good time celebrating post-race together!