Sport’s Most Infamous Cheats
After the uproar caused by the Australian Cricket team’s ball-tampering exploits in South Africa, we thought it was a good time to delve into the sporting annuals and relive some infamous moments!
(Note: We’re excluding Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ moment mainly because it knocked England out of the World Cup)
We all know this story, the 7-time Tour De France winner and Olympic medalist, defied the odds to return from testicular cancer to claim cycling’s greatest prize a record amount of times.
Through his record-breaking wins though, rumours swirled of the American’s use of Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) and he denied all accusations.
He had spat after spat with journalists like Paul Kimmage, David Walsh and fellow rider Christophe Bassons…
..he was involved in numerous lawsuits in numerous countries, some of which are still ongoing, and through it all he maintained it was just a witch-hunt.
It finally came to an end when USADA charged him with running a drugs ring when they banned him for life and in January 2013 he finally admitted in an interview with Oprah Winfrey what everyone knew all along, he was a drugs cheat.
Admittedly I wasn’t that familiar with the ins-and-outs of this story but I vaguely knew it so I checked it out. It’s a gold mine.
Rosie Ruiz was a “marathon runner” who “won” the Boston marathon in 1980, except there was a lot of suspicion regarding her winning time, given it was 20 minutes faster than her previous Personal Best.
It turned out she had left the race, hopped on the subway to go downtown, jumped out from the crowd with a mile or so left and ran to victory.
Eventually she was found out, the real female winner was flown back to Boston from Canada the following week and allowed to cross the finish line in front of 3,000 people.
Ruiz still denies she cheated to this day. Fantastic commitment.
Spain at the 2000 Paralympics
This one is genuinely shocking, Spain won the Gold medal for intellectual disability basketball at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic games except there was a problem, 10 of the 12 players had no intellectual disability.
Seriously, this is one of the worst cases I’ve come across, the Spanish Federation of Sportspeople with Intellectual Disabilities needed sponsors/money and to get that they needed to win medals.
The coach reportedly told them during one match to…
..stop playing so well or they’ll figure out you’re not disabled.
Incredibly, the whole thing came to the public’s attention because one of the players chosen was an undercover journalist. You literally couldn’t make this up. The federation initially denied the allegations (seems to be a recurring theme) before admitting their crime.
Italian Football Fixing
In 2006 Italy had just won the World Cup but it came amidst the worst scandal to hit the sport since David Beckham put his hair in cornrows.
Italian champions Juventus, 7-time European Champions AC Milan along with Fiorentina, Lazio and Reggina were all found to have rigged favorable referee appointments for several of their games during the 2004/05 season.
Juventus’ directors essentially set the ball rolling by influencing Serie A officials before the other clubs joined in.
AC Milan’s CEO was also the President of Serie A at the time to add to all of this.
All 5 teams were punished severely, Juventus were stripped of their last two league titles and were relegated to Serie B for the following season with a points deduction. Fiorentina & Lazio were also relegated whilst Milan & Reggina only received points deductions.
AC Milan were also initially banned from the 2006/07 Champions League before being reinstated and eventually beating Liverpool 2-1 in the final in Athens. Salty Liverpool fans incoming.
Thierry Bloody Henry
You all knew it was coming, it’s likely the reason you came here in the first place. I’m not going to regale you with the story of what happened because you all remember it like it was yesterday.
Instead I will contextualise it for you; Thierry Henry robbed us of street parties, bad World Cup songs and most importantly, seeing Paul McShane play at a World Cup.
Ireland is a better, brighter place when the football team is at the biggest event in the world and we were robbed of that.
In essence, it was a travesty and a throwback to Ireland’s long history of depressing stuff happening, the housing bubble was about to collapse and perhaps the inflatable hammer industry could have propped up the economy but alas it was not to be because of Thierry Henry’s left hand.