Sports Cheaters never prosper

Some people are still prepared to bend the truth, rather than bend the ball to succeed. We’re not just talking about taking performance enhancing substances. What about faking injuries to slow down a game? Or throwing a match?  While there may be many small cheats in sport, there are a number of bigger ones that hit the headlines.


David Robertson was disqualified for ‘not replacing his ball in the correct position on the green’ while playing in the 1985 Open in Kent. He was accused of moving his ball marker 15 feet nearer the hole. Robertson was banned for 20 years from playing as a pro by the PGA European Tour.

Tour de France

Riders and spectators were involved in cheating during the 1904 Tour de France. There were protests, road blocks caused by trees, broken glass and nails on the road, spiked water bottles and itching powder in peoples riding shorts. Cheating was so rampant that the French Cycling Union disqualified the first four riders [Maurice Garin, Lucien Pothier, Cesar Garin, and Hyppolite Aucouturier] finishing the Tour giving the title to the fifth placed rider, Henri Cornet. Nine others were also disqualified and removed from the results.
During the 1978 Tour de France Michel Pollentier was disqualified for submitting a urine sample for drugs testing that wasn’t his own. Using an elaborate plumbing system he was able to run urine to the test tube from a rubber bulb under his arm. Pollentier served a two-month suspension before he started racing again.

Horse Racing

At Louisana’s Delta Downs Racetrack in 1990 Sylvester Carmouche rode the 23-1 longshot, Landing Officer, to victory. He managed this by leaving the track when he couldn’t be seen and waiting to pull in front of the pack as they came round again. His win by 24 lengths was so fast he was only 1.2 seconds off setting a course record. When questioned, the other jockeys could not remember Carmouche passing them. He was disqualified and received a 10-year ban from horse racing. He was reinstated after serving eight years of his suspension and admitting his actions.


Talking of not being seen, Rosie Ruiz cheated in the Boston Marathon in 1980. After joining the starting lineup, Ruiz detoured to the subway, travelled to the stop closest to the finish, and then rejoined the race. The lie was discovered and she was stripped of her victory.

This is a similar case to that of Fred Lorz during the marathon at the St Louis Olympic Games of 1904. Only 14 of the 32 starters at the 1904 Olympics made it to the finish line, the first being Fred Lorz with a time of three hours 13 minutes. He was about to be awarded the gold medal when it was discovered he had been driven part of the course by car. It appears that he suffered cramps during the race and was picked up by car. However, when the car broke down about five miles from the stadium, Lorz continued on foot. He received a lifetime ban, which was later lifted. Thomas Hicks, who was awarded the race, was found to have taken strychnine and brandy to keep going, but was not disqualified. Strychnine is now banned for athletes.

Talking of Olympics…..

100 metres

Ben Johnson trimed four-hundredths of a second off the world record to finish first in the 100 metres at the Seoul Olympics in 1988. But his victory turned into a scandal as it was found he’d taken a banned substance. Stripped of his medal, Johnson raced at the next Olympics after serving a two-year suspension. The drug use continued and he was banned for life in 1993 after he tested positive again.

Modern pentathlon

Boris Onischenko entered the Modern pentathlon in the 1976 Olympics using an épée that he had wired so he could trigger the eletronic scoring system with his hand and register a hit at will. He was later disqualified.

Gender issues

Dora Ratjen took part in the 1936 Female High Jump as part of Germany’s Olympic team at Berlin, even though “she” was a man. She/he is not alone in the gender cheating as noted by Matt Stopera.

Olympic Gymnastics

Athletes need to be at least 16 to compete in the Olympics. China has been accused of entering underage gymnasts in various Olympics games. The international gymnastics officials cleared them of age violations during the Beijing Games but suggested they should return an Olympics bronze medal from the 2000 Olympics because one of the Chinese athletes was only 14 at the time.


The Paralympics have not been immune from Cheating, notably the Spanish entry in the intellectually disabled basketball tournament at the 2000 Summer Paralympics. The team had to return their gold medals after it was discovered that 10 of the 12 players didn’t really suffer from any disability.

 TheFinal Disgrace

These are serious cases of cheating. On a lighter note, a case of suspected cheating is the subject of a mystery game from ITM Games. TheFinal Disgrace is a role playing mystery game for 8 players. It concerns the final match for the Eclipse Cup, Football’s Mixed Six-a-side competition. The team of Lower Morrals Athletic have just lost the match. This is a shock result considering they have been enjoying their best season ever. With a string of record breaking scores under their belt, could someone have cheated and lost them the game on purpose? If you want to learn the answer to this, the game is available for ITM Games.


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