From personal tactics to coaches encouraging bending the rules past their breaking point, these people deserve the shame of soiling their noble sports.
The Baseball Bat Heist
During 1994, Albert Belle was suspected of corking his bat, making it far easier to swing with more power. The bat was confiscated for later examination, and his team, the Cleveland Indians, knew he was guilty. So, they sent pitcher Jason Grimsley into the vents to retrieve the bat from the ump's locker and replace it with a clean bat.
The only problem...well, the biggest problem, anyway...was that a third teammate, Paul Sorrento, had written his name on the second bat. After all was said and done, Belle was suspended for seven games. For such a wild story, you'd think more would happen.
The Fifth Down Game
College football is intense. In 1990, the Colorado Buffaloes faced the Missouri Tigers, and Colorado trailed late in the game. After a failed fourth-down run attempt, the ball should have been a turnover on downs. However, the Buffaloes lined up, hiked the ball, and scored the go-ahead touchdown. It turns out the down card was never flipped, giving Colorado an extra chance.
It was discovered quickly after the game finished, but Colorado coach Bill McCartney did little to quell the uproar, blaming the Missouri field for poor quality, which resulted in numerous slips and falls. McCartney would eventually own up to the mistake a few years after stepping down as coach.
Henry's Left Hand
The thing about soccer (or football, as most of the world calls it) is that you can't touch the ball with your hands. Every other part of the body is fine, but the hands are right out. Thierry Henry broke that rule during a 2009 World Cup qualifying match, in which France defeated Ireland 2-1. He committed an obvious handball, which was caught quite clearly on video.
Guilt-ridden, Henry admitted to using his hand to guide the ball toward teammate William Gallas. Irish fans were furious, but thankfully the animosity has subsided in the intervening decade.
Unsporting at Home Base
Ty Cobb, one of baseball's legendary players, was an absolute brute when he played. He would trip base runners, cleat infielders, and steal signs. While his actions were in no way reasonable, there was more going on than just cheating. A mere year before starting his rookie season, Cobb's mother took his father's life, which left him emotionally unstable.
In addition, the hazing that rookie players had to go through at the time, honed his actions toward opponents. It certainly doesn't excuse his dirty play, but at least it didn't come down to Cobb just being a meanie because he wanted to.
Keeping His Nails Sharp
When a pitcher digs his fingernails into the ball it's called a knuckleball. It causes an erratic, unpredictable motion since the ball's spin is minimized by the grip. Joe Niekro, a pitcher for the Minnesota Twins during the 1987 season, carried an emery board and sandpaper in his pocket to keep his nails sharp.
Many suspect, however, that he was tampering with the ball, using the sandpaper or board to adjust the ball for a better grip. Niekro's brother Phil was the one who handed him a ten-game suspension and also sent him a power sander in the mail. That's how a brother should act.
Putting Stuff on Your Hands
The World Series is the biggest moment in baseball, so players bring out all the stops. That sometimes means cheating. Kenny Rogers started Game 2 of the 2006 World Series for the Detroit Tigers, but cameras spied something on his pitching hand – a strange substance that was later defined as soil mixed with rosin.
The Cardinals complained that Rogers was cheating, and they claimed to have collected five or six balls that had deep scuff marks. However, the Cardinals ended up winning the World Series anyway. Eventually, the substance was identified as dirt. Which is, we believe, something that will end up on baseballs during a game.
A Lawful Score or Not?
In hockey, the goalkeeper gets a little bit of protection – opponents aren't allowed inside the goalkeeper's crease when they score. This very situation happened during the 1999 Stanley Cup Final, in which the Dallas Stars had a 1-0 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. The single goal was scored while Brett Hull's skate was inside the crease.
The goal was allowed by the officials because Hull had possession of the puck prior to the shot. The Sabres disputed the goal, but a document produced by the league officials showed that such an action was legal. Still, it's one of the hottest disputes in hockey history.
An Unexpected Biological Advantage
Stella Walsh won numerous gold medals for Poland at the 1932 Summer Olympics following a string of victories during sprinting competitions in the states. Unfortunately, Walsh was fatally hurt during a robbery. To the great surprise of the athletic community, it was found that Walsh had both XX and XY chromosomes, as well as “ambiguous male genitalia.”
The presence of male chromosomes represents a distinct advantage thanks to increased testosterone production, fueling both muscle growth and stamina. There are many who believe that Walsh's records should be struck from the record books, due to her keeping this advantage a secret.
The Basketball Barber
In 1994, Stevin Smith– who would later go on to play for the Miami Heat – and a number of other players on the Arizona State basketball team were involved in a controversy with a local bookie. He had been bribing them – and their coach Benjamin Silman – to shave points off their scores in order to keep the game from beating the spread.
Coach Silman pleaded guilty to rigging four Arizona State basketball games and collecting money from gamblers. While not, on a technical level, fraud, is still frowned upon. Silman has said that members of illegal organizations forced him to continue the scam longer than expected.
Maybe Years Work Differently There
To think that an ethical, stand-up country like China could be accused of cheating! What is the world coming to? During the Sydney Olympics in 2000, China used a girl who was too young according to the rules, forging both her birth certificate and birth date.
When this was discovered, Dong Fangxiao (the girl in question) and her teammates lost their bronze medals, which went to the United States instead. China's 2008 Olympic gymnastics team is also being investigated for the same reason. Maybe it's a cheating method they've used a lot in the past.
How Do You Cheat in Sailing?
Donald Crowhurst, a British businessman, was a competitor in the 1968 Sunday Times Golden Globe race, which has solo sailors guide their sailboats all the way around the world. It's an incredible undertaking, but Crowhurst seemed to be doing well, according to his radio transmissions. They let others know that he was well ahead of the competition. However, he was actually docked in the South Pacific, far from where he was supposed to be.
After being expelled from the competition, he explained that his boat had begun to take on heavy water, and he would have certainly drowned had he continued. Shortly thereafter, Crowhurst disappeared for good.
The Bite Felt Around the World
In his prime, Mike Tyson was the most ferociously powerful boxer the world had ever seen. However, he had been humbled by Evander Holyfield for the World Heavyweight Championship. During a rematch, Tyson was upset enough to bite a chunk out of Holyfield's ear. The fight was called off, and it went down in boxing history.
Tyson explained that the attack was to get back at the numerous headbutts Holyfield used. The arena turned into a near-riot, with several members of the crowd hurt. It was the first heavyweight title match to end in disqualification in over fifty years.
Peeking at the Enemy
There's quite a history of spying when it comes to football – if you know what plays your opponent is practicing, you have a huge advantage. The Denver Broncos and then-coach Josh McDaniels were both fined fifty grand by the NFL after the team's video operations director illegally filmed a San Francisco 49ers practice while both teams were in London in 2010.
McDaniel's career had been promising to that point but the investigation stained it. The videographer, Scarnecchia, said that he was acting alone, and was fired by the Broncos, while the team and coach were fined for not reporting it immediately, as protocol dictates.
No Betting for You
If you're a player, betting on one of the games you're playing is a gray area legally. If you're a manager or coach, it's pretty much recognized as a bad thing to do. “Hit King” Peter Rose should have known better. In baseball, it's legally prohibited, since managers have a lot of power over how the game plays out. Well, Rose was the manager of the Reds while he was doing so, and he was quickly investigated.
He was given a permanent spot on baseball's ineligible list in 1989, which means he also is not allowed to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
An International Incident
In the final for the men's light middleweight during the 1988 Olympics, Roy Jones Jr. and Park Si-Hun faced off in the ring. Roy Jones Jr. was the winner, yet Park Si-Hun was given the gold. Later scoring revealed that Park had landed thirty-two punches, while Jones had landed a whopping eighty-six.
It turns out the cheaters were several of the judges, including Hiouad Larbi of Morocco, who was recorded saying he voted in favor of Park to placate the spectators – the 1988 Olympics were held in Seoul. This not only resulted in several of the judges being banned but the scoring rules for boxing were changed.
That Makes it Easy
During the 1904 Olympic Games in St. Louis (one of the most disastrous games in its history), Fred Lorz won a marathon in three hours and thirteen minutes, and he did it by riding in a car for eleven miles.
By the time race organizers found that he had cheated, he had already posed with Alice Roosevelt, the then-first daughter. He was sentenced to a lifetime ban. It was later determined that Lorz had not intended to cheat (he claims he had given up due to tiredness) and so the ban was lifted after a year.
During the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Marie-Reine Le Gougne and four other judges placed the Russian figure skating team above the Canadian crowd favorites. When confronted about discrepancies, Le Gougne broke down in tears, saying that the head of the French federation, Didier Gailhaguet, had pressured Le Gougne to vote for the Russian team as part of a deal to get the French ice dancing team the gold.
She would later offer contradictory statements, but both she and Gailhaguet were barred from the 2006 Olympics in Turin and suspended from the sport for three years. Too bad.
Boston's Fastest Woman
In 1980, the first woman to cross the finishing line of the Boston Marathon was Rosie Ruiz. She earned herself a sweet laurel wreath and the title of “Boston's fastest woman.” Too bad she didn't deserve it. It turns out that while she was qualified for the race, she jumped out of the gathered crowd a few hundred feet from the finish line.
She even has a history of cheating: She had a time of two hours, fifty-six minutes, and twenty-nine seconds in the 1979 New York City Marathon qualifier, and was allowed to run despite her application arriving late – she said she was dying of terminal illness.
The Young Gun
Danny Almonte boasted a 79 mph fastball, comparable to a 92 mph major league fastball. He led his Bronx team to a third-place finish in the 2001 Little League World Series. Problem was, he was too old. His coach had falsified records to let Almonte play longer. Almonte was actually fourteen at the time, two years older than his records showed.
Both of his parents, who were separated, upheld the supposed younger age. The malfeasance was only discovered when reporters from “Sports Illustrated” went to a civil records building in the Dominican Republic, finding Almonte's original birth certificate. His team's wins were disqualified, and his coach was suspended.
A Minnesota Braintrust
For five years, players on the Minnesota college basketball team were dedicating all their time to basketball. We mean all their time. From 1994 to 1998, the manager of the school's academic counseling office, Jan Gangelhoff, wrote almost four hundred pieces of homework. This included essays, homework assignments, and even take-home exams. Eighteen members of the team benefited from this, and the team even reached the Final Four in 1997.
When the cheating was discovered, Minnesota was not allowed into the playoffs until after the 2000 season, Haskins was kicked out of his position and hasn't coached since.
Invalidated by Testing
Having an entire season wiped out sounds like something that would happen in a fantasy novel, but it really happened to the 2008 Memphis Tigers basketball team. The coach, John Calipari, faked the SATs for guard Derrick Rose, and also had the team pay for Rose's brother's travel expenses. Both actions were, as you might guess, against the rules of the NCAA.
Rose continues to deny any wrongdoing, but investigations by both the NCAA and the Educational Testing Service were enough to invalidate Rose's SAT scores, and an entire season of basketball was wiped out.
Riding in an Illegal Car
In 2010, NASCAR did something that it rarely does – it docked points from a racer. Clint Bowyer's car was inspected and found that it did not meet the qualifications set by NASCAR standards. The 150 points that the org docked from Clint Bowyer's team was a crippling blow – and it came right after Bowyer got his first victory of the season.
Shane Wilson, the crew chief, was fined a hundred and fifty grand and suspended for six weeks. With the huge amount of points docked from the team, Bowyer dropped from second all the way to twelfth place in the standings.
One of the Original Cheaters
From 1891 to 1906, John McGraw was a player for the Orioles, the Cardinals, and the Giants, turning into a journeyman baseball player long before it was the game we all know today. According to the testimonies of former teammates, McGraw was also a dirty, dirty cheat. He often played second base and had a habit of tripping players who were running on his path.
He grabbed players' belt loops and stepped in front of them to slow them down. McGraw apparently had a large frame and big physique and liked bullying anybody he could. Yikes.
Forced to the Other Side
During the 1936 Olympics in Germany, Dora Ratjen competed for Germany, smashing records and winning awards for the country that would go on to cause so much trouble. Problem was that it's most likely that Dora was actually intersex.
Dora (who would later go as Heinrich) believed himself to be male, but he was forced to dress and act as a woman for several years in order to compete for Germany. He had been forced to masquerade or play up as a woman for his country's prestige.
Filling His Gloves
Antonio Margarito had a powerful punch while he was a boxer in 2009, but some felt it was a little too powerful. His gloves were inspected after a fight against Shane Mosley, and a suspicious chemical was discovered on damp pads inside his gloves. After a review by Mosley's corner, the chemical was identified as Plaster of Paris, a mixture that hardens as it dries, turning his fists into rock-hard weapons.
Margarito and his trainer, Javier Capetillo, were suspended, even though Margarito was unaware of the additions to the gloves. As the team's leader, it was determined that he was liable for his trainer's actions.
The Great Deflategate
Tom Brady is widely regarded as the most successful quarterback of all time, and he has the championships to back it up. However, a number of controversies have marred his incredible time in the NFL. Deflategate is probably the biggest. During the 2015 playoffs, Brady and his team, the New England Patriots, deflated game balls to make them easier to throw and catch.
The team was fined a million dollars, and Brady was suspended for four games. The NFL released a 243-page report into the deflation of footballs used in the AFC Championship Game, and it was determined that Brady was almost certainly aware of the deliberate deflation.
An Errant Swing
Sammy Sosa was one of baseball's biggest stars, but there are plenty of falling stars these days. Sosa was swinging at an inside fastball when his bat broke into a number of pieces, revealing there was more than just wood at play. A piece of cork was lodged in the barrel, revealing Sosa to be a cheater.
Corked bats are lighter and easier to swing, giving the batter a huge advantage against fastballs when they aim for the fences. Sosa claimed he got his practice and game bats mixed up. Sosa was suspended for cheating, and he would also go on to be part of the big scandal in 2005.
Cricket's Most Infamous
Don't ask us to explain the rules of this famous sport, but even we've heard of Hansie Cronje, one of cricket's biggest names. Being at the top of a sport wasn't enough for this Indian native – in 1999, he was caught on tape discussing throwing matches for thousands of dollars. There were also his SEVENTY bank accounts in the Cayman islands – unlawful since they weren't reported to the South African Revenue Service.
Cronje was disputing these charges, however, he died in a fatal plane crash in June 2002. Many reports imply the match-fixing was far more widespread than officials at first believed.
Earning Some Prison Time
If you've watched sports for any amount of time, you've probably seen a call you didn't agree with. but probably nothing reaches the level of official Tim Donaghy from the NBA. From 2005 to 2007, this courtside ref purposefully made incorrect calls in order to win wagers on game point spreads.
The FBI even got involved, and Donaghy was sentenced to fifteen months in prison. Referees are prohibited from basically all kinds of gambling under the collective bargaining agreement, but an investigation discovered that almost half of the NBA's officials at the time had been gambling, leading to much tighter rules to keep games fair.
Setting the Stage for Future Cheating
All the way back in 1951, college basketball was still on its first legs. The City College of New York basketball team was found to be shaving points – but the scandal didn't stop there. The scandal also involved several other schools and something like thirty of their players. It's perhaps the first big college basketball gambling scandal.
It seems almost mild today, but the sport suffered long-term consequences – as did a number of the people involved. Even now coaches use the event as an object lesson to keep players from chasing “quick money.” CCNY eventually had to downgrade its entire athletic program to Division III.
The Hand of God
Talk to someone who was watching the 1986 World Cup and mention “The Hand of God,” and they'll know what you mean. In a quarterfinal match between England and Argentina, Diego Maradona “scored” what might be the most contentious goal in soccer history. His left hand bonked the ball into the net, but referee Ali Bin Nasser thought it was a header from his perspective.
Nothing was done to adjust the goal, and the famous phrase “The Hand of God” was immediately part of the sport. Maradona would bring the hand to bear again in the 1990 World Cup against the Soviet team, intercepting a shot using his hand – again, without the ref noticing.
Football's Big Rigging Scandal
An Italian scandal became big news in 2006 when intercepted telephone calls revealed relations between team managers for a number of top professional teams and referee organizations. The teams were allowed to select favorable referees.
As a consequence, one team (Juventus) was stripped of the 2004-2005 title and downgraded to last place in the 2005-2006 championship. They were also dropped from Serie A to Serie B. There were prison sentences, fines, and more. It became known as “Calciopoli” – if it had happened in America, a good translation would have been “Footballgate.”
Yet Another Rodriguez Scandal
Alex Rodriguez is a famous baseball player and media personality, but he's made some bad choices in his day as an athlete. As a member of the Texas Rangers, he was accused of tipping pitches to opposing teams during lopsided games during the 2009 season. Tipping pitches basically means to give away which pitch you're going to throw, but it can range from an unconscious tell to – such as in these occasions – purposefully giving information away.
According to Rodriguez, he only did it when games were pretty much decided, and hoped that opposing pitchers would return the favor when he was in a batting slump.
The White Sox Mob Scandal
It's been called the largest sporting scandal of all time, and it's hard not to agree. Eight players from the 1919 Chicago White Sox allegedly purposefully lost the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. It was all thanks to a huge gambling operation directed by the infamous mobster Arnold Rothstein.
The players had taken bribes from the mob, and when it was discovered, they were banned from America's Pastime forever. However, despite incredible testimonies from numerous people, a jury found all of the accused players innocent of all charges. Still, they were out of the game for good.
New England Spygate
In 2007, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was awarded coach of the year. He was also caught taping New York Jets defensive signals. Well, a member of the organization was caught, but Belichick was considered responsible for the on-field operations.
Belichick himself was fined $250,000, the team was fined half a million, and they also lost something more important in the long run: the first-round draft pick ahead of the 2008 season. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was a former Jets employee, and he knew that draft picks would do more to dissuade the team than just a monetary fine.
Secret Spitball Techniques
A man by the name of Gaylord Perry would place Vaseline beneath the bill of his cap, in his waistline, and under his sleeve to help him throw what are known as spitballs. Adding the substance to a ball alters its weight and wind trajectory, which makes it much harder to follow and hit.
Perry had a reputation for doctoring the ball in such a way and was constantly inspected, leading to multiple ejections and short bans. He once approached Vaseline about a sponsorship deal, but they responded with “We comfort babies' backsides, not baseball.”
Biking's Biggest Secret
Even if you have no interest in biking as a competitive sport, you're probably familiar with the name Lance Armstrong. He was the most famous biker and Tour de France champion in the entire world, having racked up an astounding seven wins. He beat a severe illness during that period as well. It all fell apart when it was revealed that he had been using performance-enhancing substances for much of his career.
All of his successes were wiped off the record books. Armstrong has always maintained his innocence, stating that even his trainer, the famously shady Michele Ferrari, had never suggested using any performance enhancers.
Attack on the Ice
Ahead of the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Nancy Kerrigan was the favorite to take the gold, with Tonya Harding expected to come in second place. Well, that wasn't good enough for some people. Those people, including Harding's ex-husband Jeff Gillooly, attacked Kerrigan during a practice session, injuring her leg. Harding pleaded innocent to the knowledge of the attack but later pleaded guilty to hindering the investigation.
Kerrigan, while she was unable to perform in the championships, recovered quickly. Harding went on to win the 1994 championship, with beloved skater Michelle Kwan coming second. Kerrigan would eventually perform at the 1994 Winter Olympics.
The Great Yankee Cheater
There's a long line of baseball cheaters who played the sport, but few can reach the level of the great Whitey Ford, a player for the Yankees during the middle of the twentieth century. He would mutilate the ball and load it with mud, even pitching against the Dodgers in the 1963 World Series.
There was even something called a “gunk ball” which used a concoction of baby oil, turpentine, and resin. He kept it in a roll-on dispenser, and it was finally discovered when, hilariously, Yogi Berra mistook it for deodorant and accidentally glued his arms to his body after application.
The Big Juicing
One of the biggest sports scandals ever – at least in recent decades – was the use of Performance-enhancing substitutes in Major League Baseball. The use of Performance-enhancing is tested in every sport due to the huge advantage it offers. Players caught in the scandal include Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Jason Giambi, and many others.
A report by George J. Mitchell named hundreds of current and former MLB players that had tested positive for steroids during their time on teams. Congress even got involved, and many of the players are today still mostly known for being cheaters.
He Doesn't Deserve It
While he played football at USC, Brian Cushing was a good player despite what many would call a poor muscle tone. However, he was drafted by the Houston Texans and immediately started to look a lot more like a professional football player. He was stronger, faster, and his muscles had bulged. He even managed to win the Rookie of the Year Award in the NFL...despite testing positive for performance-enhancing substitutes.
Somehow, the NFL hadn't thought it was necessary to remove him from contention. However, the award was eventually removed, and he was suspended for the first four games of the 2010 season.
He Got a Little Help
Drafted out of Maryland in 2005, Shawn Merriman was taken twelfth overall by the San Diego Chargers, and he immediately made his presence known on the team. He led the league in sacks with ten and also won Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. However, it was found he had been using performance-enhancing substitutes during the 2006 season and faced a four-game suspension.
Despite this, he still racked up an impressive seventeen sacks in only twelve games. However, the damage was done – Merriman's play began to suffer after he stopped using illegal medication.
That Didn't Last Long
At the Seoul Olympics in 1988, Canada stunned by taking home the gold in the 100m sprint. Ben Johnson was the fleet-footed man, but his malfeasance was quickly uncovered. Just days after he received the gold medal, the Olympic committee took it right back. It was revealed that he had been using illegal anabolic medication.
the substance used was the same one that Barry Bonds was fond of using. Johnson then revealed that he had also been using the medication when he set a world record in 1987, which led the World Athletics organization to rescind that record as well.
The Track and Field Bombshell
Carl Lewis was an incredible competitor, dominating multiple events in repeated Olympic games and world championships. However, he, too, was using improper substances to maintain his edge. The USOC chief Wade Exum released a report in 2003 that exposed a string of systematic cheating in the United States track and field team.
Nineteen athletes, including Lewis, failed the tests at the Olympic team trials, but officials covered up the results and let them compete anyway. Ironically, Lewis received a gold medal in the Seoul Olympics after Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson was found to have been using illegal substances too.
The Original Cycling Cheater
Before the Lance Armstrong story broke big, there was Floyd Landis, also an American road cyclist. He finished first in the 2006 Tour de France, and he would have been the third non-European winner in the event's history, but he tested positive for performance-enhancing medication, giving the victory to Spanish racer Oscar Pereiro.
When Landis went public with what he had done, he also accused Lance Armstrong of the same actions. Landis was synonymous with cheating in cycling until it was revealed Armstrong, the biggest name in road racing, has also been using performance-enhancing substitutes.
Quite the Adam's Apple You Have There
Performance-enhancing medication often increases testosterone production. In guys, it increases muscle mass, but in women, it does a few more things, such as changing features. Women taking these medications tend to look more manly, and that's how track and field competitor Marion Jones was discovered.
While Jones had always maintained her innocence, the people around her didn't, including trainers and coaches. Eventually, Jones buckled under the pressure and admitted that she had been using. All of her accomplishments post-2000 were stripped from the records. However, she still has a few gold medals to her name from before that time.
During the Cold War
The Cold War was an...exciting time. For a lot of reasons. The problems didn't end just because the countries were getting together for a little bit of competition, either. Between The years 1968 and the early eighties, it's believed that over ten thousand East German athletes were on medication programs in order to have an advantage over their democratic neighbors. In particular, the East German swim teams were the poster child of this method of cheating.
They ended up being somewhat easy to pick out, thanks to the greatly increased muscle mass above the waist that performance-enhancing substances often create.
A Sticky Situation
In case you aren't in the know, “stick'em” is a banned substance that NFL wide receivers would sometimes use to make it far easier to catch balls thrown their way. They slather it on their gloves, and it sticks to balls. However, it's obviously poor sportsmanship. That didn't stop the San Diego Chargers, who decided a moral high ground wasn't worthit when they played against the Denver Broncos in 2012.
It's unknown if the Chargers had been using it longer, but the Broncos players caught on quickly and alerted the officials. Then, to make it even better, the Chargers lost.
Well, it IS Called Football
During an NFL game, plays will end and the ball won't move until the next time it's snapped. Tony Romo – despite his intense football knowledge and experience as a quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys – must have missed that fact. After a third-and-one run by the bruising back DeMarco Murray, Tony Romo tried to push the ball forward with his foot.
It was clearly a joking attempt, but not a single person missed it. Romo claims he was joking around, and gamely stepped off the field to let the punt unit on, but it was still caught on live TV. Wrong kind of football, bud.
And the Oscar Goes To...
Umpires and referees are pretty good at spotting malfeasance during sporting events. Not to mention that trying to fake something with a huge crowd around you is no easy feat. Such was the case in 2008 when Arkansas catcher Brian Walker stepped up to the plate in a game against Ole Miss. Walker tried to lean into the pitch to get hit, which might have earned him a first base, except it was really obvious and everybody saw it.
He was allowed to keep hitting, but he squandered his second opportunity, too, first by missing a pitch and then by yelling at the ump. After which, he got ejected.
A Flop for the Record Books
Mick Pennisi isn't going to be history's greatest basketball player, but he might be remembered for one thing. During a game, he got into a tussle with an opponent, straight-up slapping the other player. Immediately after that, the basketball hit him in the forehead. That's not illegal, but pretending you got hit by something when you didn't is. Or at least it should be.
His legs buckled and flew out from under him, and he flopped on the ground in a display that would have earned him a Razzie had it been in a movie.
Sullying the Great Art
Fencing is an interesting sport to watch if you like amazing movements in a split-second time frame. Scoring works like this: If your sword touches specific spots, a connection is made and a point is added. Russian all-around athlete Borys Onyshchenko decided there was a better way and added a button-activated mechanism in the handle of his fencing sword to award himself points during the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
Saying that he got a little trigger happy, officials inspected his equipment. The cheating was discovered, and Onyshchenko was disqualified from the competition. He could have gotten away with it, but he wanted to rack up more points.
Really? He Was Taking What? Impossible
Sure, bodybuilding isn't what most people think of when they imagine a sport, but it's close enough. The most famous bodybuilder of all time, Arnold Schwarzenegger, admitted to juicing to keep up with his fellow bodybuilders. It shouldn't really come as a surprise – the man's muscles have muscles – but Arnold had built his brand as someone of great integrity.
This is mitigated by the fact that pretty much everyone else in the competition was also using performance-enhancing substitutes, and that he didn't use them while competing as a powerlifter or weightlifter, just as a bodybuilder.
The Big Man Himself
If you follow baseball or are a fan of its history, you're probably familiar with Jose Canseco. You're also probably familiar with his moniker, “The Godfather of Steroids.” If you aren't, you should still be able to piece together why people call him that.
He was once considered one of the league's best power hitters in history. However, like many of the other big sluggers, he was taking illicit substances to pump up his numbers. Unlike others, however, he doesn't feel bad about it. On the contrary, he seems to almost advocate for steroid use in sports.
The Great Sign Theft of 2017
The 2017 Houston Astros were a dynamite team at home. They seemed to be unstoppable, crushing opponents into the playoffs. They beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series and seemed poised to become the next Major League Baseball dynasty. That is until former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers revealed the team had been stealing signs.
The team was heavily fined, but since the players involved all cooperated, they received immunity. They didn't even lose their championship. However, several figures were suspended. These include Alex Cora, AJ Hinch, and Jeff Luhnow. All that and their World Series win still counts?
Stealing Signs Before it Was Cool
Before the Houston Astros used the tactic to win a World Series in 2017, the 1951 New York Giants earned despise and hatred from rival teams thanks to a similar scheme. The elaborate plan made them into one of the most powerful offensive teams of all time, but of course, that's with a hefty asterisk.
The Giants used buzzers, telescopes, and even bells to steal signs from catchers and let hitters know what was going to come their way. Despite all this, however, the Giants still lost the 1951 World Series to their cross-town rivals, the New York Yankees.
Putting Out a Hit
American Football is already a pretty intense sport, with plenty of knee injuries, concussions, and other accidents happening frequently. So, what happens if a team tells players to TRY to injure their opponents? This happened during the 2009, 2010, and 2011 years on the New Orleans Saints.
Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams offered to pay players who had deliberately injured opposing players. When this awful idea was discovered, Williams was banned from football indefinitely. Head Coach of the Saints at the time, Sean Payton, was also suspended for a season. It's still a black mark on the franchise's history.
Red Food Coloring and Corn Syrup
Injuries are serious business during athletic competitions. Any amount of blood on the field creates an immediate stop to the action and worry from the onlookers. During a rugby league championship in 2009, the English Rugby team tried to fake an injury in order to substitute a player that could only leave the game due to injury.
They did it with fake blood tablets, but the trick was discovered pretty quickly. The player who tried to pull one over on refs, Tom Williams, was suspended for four months, and the team was fined two-hundred and sixty thousand pounds.
Tarring the Ball
During a 2014 game against the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees Pitcher Michael Pineda was caught using the illicit stuff. Getting a better grip on the ball allows pitchers to increase speed, wind up their curve balls, and drop sliders into the batter's box better, so pine tar is a no-go for fans of fair games.
Pineda was suspended for ten games following the discovery, and we're sure no one has used it since.
Missing the Hat Trick Because of Cheating
Cheating at the Olympics has been around probably as long as the Olympics have been around, and we have proof going back more than a hundred and twenty years. Spiridon Belokas was a Greek marathoner in the 1896 Olympics, which took place in Athens. It was the first international Olympiad in modern history.
Spiridon took third in the marathon, but it was later discovered that he had used a horse and carriage to make it. He was disqualified, and Greece missed out on winning first, second, and third in the competition.
The Great Race Controversy
Karl Schranz was an alpine skiing legend, but success at the Olympics never seemed to go his way. Until, that is, the 1968 Olympiad. He finished just barely slower than first place, but he claimed a course patrolman crossed his path during the race, forcing him to stop. He was allowed to take the run again.
He beat the winning time during his second run, but then it was discovered he had missed a gate at the start of his run. The time was annulled, and controversy began, with many people saying home judges were trying to bend things in favor of the original winner, Jean-Claude Killy.
Heated Actions at the Winter Olympics
It was Grenoble, 1968, and East Germany was doing everything it could to bring home success in the Winter Olympics. But how could a luge team cheat? Illegal medication might have given them a little boost, but it's nowhere near as helpful compared to something like marathons or sprints. Well, it turned out they were doing pretty well – like, really, really well.
No one thought much until word got out about some odd pre-race prep work the team had been going through. It turns out that the competitors had been illegally heating their sled's runners before hitting the ice, which boosted their speed considerably.
Someone Else's Supply
While it's greatly suspected that Pollentier tried to take the Tour de France on something a little extra, we'll never really know – because the urine he supplied for the test wasn't his. Pollentier had just won the big race, taking the lead at the last moment, but he must have known that he was going to have to provide a sample because he started pumping his hand as if playing the bagpipes.
Quickly inspected, the Belgian was revealed to be sporting an elaborate plumbing system running under his clothes. It bore some urine, and Pollentier was suspended from racing for two months.
Cheating? Sort of? Maybe?
In 1909, a well-dressed gentleman entered “The Sportsman” newspaper and asked them to publish the card of the Trodmore Hunt Steeplechase – to be held in Cornwall on the August Bank Holiday Monday, 1909. Had the editor checked, he would have discovered that this steeplechase didn't exist. It was all a scam to earn some money from bookkeepers.
It seems as if the plan was successful since bookies had to pay out big for fake races, including one horse that won despite 5-1 odds. A printer's error showing the odds at 5-2 revealed that it was a scam, but the perpetrator was never caught.
Playing in the Sand
Patrick Reed is a polarizing figure in the golfing world, to put it lightly. Just recently, during the 2019 Hero World Challenge, Reed got caught doing a little bit of maintenance before he took his shot.
While he was on camera, he wiped some of the sand away from his ball to give himself a better shot. Since it was obvious to everyone – and there was video evidence – he was penalized. Reed has maintained that he wasn't cheating on purpose, but it's a little hard to believe him.
Scandals Bury Sochi
Russia did the Russian thing during the 2014 Winter Olympics. Among terrible housing and other failures of infrastructure, it was shown that Russia had been giving its athletes performance-enhancing substitutes for the last fifty years, covering a variety of sports over a long period of time.
The report that came out in 2016 showed that in particular, Sochi was the worst ever, with many Russian athletes using illegal medical substitutes as directed by the state itself. It was even shown beyond a reasonable doubt that there were failsafes in place to make sure no one found out about it.
The Powered-Up Horse
Humans aren't the only ones that benefit from performance-enhancing medication. Horses that compete in the equestrian events of the Olympics are also heavily scrutinized, and the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing had an athlete – a horse this time – get caught using. The horse Camiro, ridden by Norwegian Tony Andre Hansen, tested positive for illegal substances.
Hansen and Camiro had won bronze in a show-jumping event, but this revelation saw their medal being stripped from them.
Give it Your All
There's actually a rule in the Olympic games that competitors have to use one's best efforts to win. They have to give it all. At the 2012 Olympics in London, several teams in the women's badminton tournament were expelled from the games for match-fixing. Since the tournament had switched to a round-robin format, a loss or two would put you with teams that weren't as good, giving you an easier road to the finals.
The crowd noticed and started booing the lackluster play, and the teams were kicked out of the Olympics, pointing out they were undermining the spirit of the games by not trying to win.
Creating His Own Quiet
There are plenty of rumors abound about Peyton Manning's HGH use, but before that, there was another scandal during his rookie year as the leader of the Indianapolis Colts. Rookies can have a tough time adjusting to the NFL, especially when they move into unfriendly stadiums.
In order to make things easier, the Colts employed special hearing aids in the linemen that muffled crowd noise and amplified Manning's voice. It made it much easier for Manning to communicate, but using those kinds of hearing aids or other electronic devices is prohibited by the NFL. Still, he didn't need them for very long.
The Original Cheater
Who was the first to cheat in the Olympics? It's possible it was Roman tyrant and ruler Nero at the Olympic games in 67 A.D. He frequently bribed the officiants. Firstly, he wasn't allowed to compete since he wasn't a Greek, but enough money and that sort of thing can be handwaved.
Another blatant example was during the four-horse chariot race when Nero's bribes allowed him to use ten horses. Incredibly, he might not have even finished the race, since he fell from his chariot. Still, the officials crowned him as the winner. The guy was still a tyrant, after all.