Infamy! Infamy! Sporting cheats and scams

September 16, 2009

johnsonIf Renault are found guilty of the race-fixing charge they face in Paris next week — and the Formula One team announced today they would not be contesting it — the incident will go down as one of the most brazen attempts at rule-breaking in sport.

As our F1 correspondent Alan Baldwin asked on this blog last week, What would you do if someone asked you to drive into a wall?

There are seemingly endless ways to cheat at sport. Here are a few of the most notorious examples from the depths of the sporting archives:

CHICAGO WHITE SOX - After the heavily favored Chicago White Sox lost the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds, eight players were charged with being paid by gamblers to throw the championship. The players, including the legendary “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, were banned for life.

BORIS ONISCHENKO - Russian pentathlete Boris Onischenko was sent home in disgrace from the 1976 Montreal Olympics after the Soviet Army Major was found to have rigged the electronic scoring system thanks to a circuit-breaker in the handle of his epee.

DIEGO MARADONA - Argentina won a 1986 World Cup soccer quarter-final against England in Mexico 2-1, with Maradona scoring the first of his two goals with his hand. “it was a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God,” the player said in his post-match news conference, coining one of the most famous quotes in sport.

BEN JOHNSON - Days after winning the 100 metres in a world record time at the 1988 Seoul Olympics the Canadian athlete Johnson tested positive for the banned steroid stanozolol and was stripped of his gold medal. The media had been captivated by the rivalry between Johnson and Carl Lewis ahead of the race and the Candian’s subsequent positive test shocked the world.

TONYA HARDING - Harding was banned for life from Olympic skating for trying to cover up a 1994 knee-clubbing of rival Nancy Kerrigan by her then-husband Jeff Gillooly and an associate.

HANSIE CRONJE - In 2000 former South Africa captain Cronje stunned the cricket world after admitting he had accepted about $130,000 from bookmakers to influence the course of matches. He
was subsequently banned for life from the game. Cronje died in a plane crash in June 2002 aged just 32.

PARALYMPICS - In 2000 Spain’s Paralympic basketball team were ordered to hand back gold medals won at the Sydney Games after 10 of their players were found to have no disability.

HARLEQUINS - In August Dean Richards resigned as director of rugby at Harlequins, and was then suspended from world rugby for three years for his role in a faked blood injury to wing Tom Williams during a Heineken Cup game against Leinster.

With a large tip of the hat to Dave Cutler and Chris Barnett of the Editorial Reference Unit here at Reuters.

6 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

You Brits can’t get over maradona, can you? And what about mike Tyson and the nibbled ear.

Posted by Reese weatherspoons | Report as abusive

mike tyson hardly gained an advantage from biting evander holyfields ear as he was disqualified straight after, all these examples cheated in order to get ahead of the competition, tysons just an animal lol

i think argentina not getting through to the world cup with maradona in charge might help heal the wounds of 86 abit

Posted by maid | Report as abusive

What about Roberto Rojas the Chile goalkeeper who managed to get his World Cup qualifier in Brazil abandoned in 1989.
He cut himself with a razor blade hidden in his glove, pretending to have been hit by a firework thrown from the stands while his side were losing the match. I guess he hoped Chile would be awarded the game. They weren’t!

Posted by Mark Elk | Report as abusive

Well, someone did make the point that Maradona’s case was different as it was not pre-meditated. We included it in the list as it was such a famous piece of rule-bending.

[...] Left field » Blog Archive » Infamy! Infamy! Sporting cheats and … [...]

How about West Germany v Austria at the 1982 World Cup?

Posted by Erik Muscrat | Report as abusive

Maradona could be on this list twice. He was kicked out the 1994 World Cup for performance-enhancing drugs. He was also red-carded in the 1982 World Cup for deliberately kicking a Brazilian player in the groin, but that was when he was merely unsportsmanlike, and not yet a cheat.

Posted by MC | Report as abusive