THEY SAY CHEATERS NEVER WIN, but the truth is that cheaters totally win. At least they win until they get caught and then get their winnings and titles stripped. That part is called losing.
Here’s a list of some of sports’ most notorious cheaters:
1. THE “BLACK SOX”
The biggest scandal in baseball history was the fixing of the 1919 World Series by the Chicago White Sox, and it resulted in a penalty far stiffer than any in the Biogenesis affair, as lifetime bans were handed down to eight Chi-town players.
The players were found guilty of taking bribes and throwing the World Series, helping gamblers make a fortune off the underdog Reds—who oddly claim the 1919 championship to this day, despite the testimony from their opponents that it was fixed.
The lifetime bans now seem excessively harsh when weighed against recent steroid suspensions. Or maybe it just shows that cheating to win and make a bunch of cash is considered less wrong than cheating to lose and make a bunch of cash.
2. TONYA HARDING
While the figure-skating champ, Tonya Harding, may never have been charged in the brutal attack on Nancy Kerrigan, which was carried out by a man hired by her then-boyfriend, she’s never escaped the public’s suspicion of her involvement.
Undoubtedly because the principal beneficiary of the attack was Harding herself. After Kerrigan’s withdrawal, Harding won the US Nationals, qualifying for the Olympics.
At Lillehammer in 1994, Harding famously broke a lace and cried and asked for a re-skate. This was something of a habit of hers — she’d done the same thing at Skate America at the 1993 US Nationals, and all of her crying requests were granted.
Tonya Harding tended to get her way.
Of course she did finish eighth at the ’94 Olympics while her rival, Kerrigan, recovered in time to win the silver.
So maybe she didn’t get everything she wanted.
3. DIEGO MARADONA & “THE HAND OF GOD”
If there’s one thing everybody knows about soccer it’s that you can’t use your hands to play.
So during the 1986 World Cup quarter final against England, Argentine striker Diego Maradona scored a goal by doing exactly that. And while it might be a touch unfair to call Maradona a cheater for what is essentially a blown call—seriously who would argue with a ref making a bad call in their favor?—he did insist his teammates hug him quickly or the ref might not allow it, and cheekily commented after that game that the goal was “a little with the head of Maradona, a little with the hand of God.”
It remains one of the most infamous moments in World Cup history to this day, and the fact that Argentina went on to win the tournament only added to its notoriety.
We told you cheaters sometimes win.
4. ROSIE RUIZ
Rosie Ruiz, a Cuban-born American, came out of the nowhere to “win” the 84th Boston Marathon back in 1980.
No one remembered seeing her on the course, and competitor Jacqueline Garneau, who was told she was leading with 18 miles to go, said she never saw her pass.
Ruiz was not panting or covered in sweat at the finish, and oddly enough, she couldn’t recall such pithy details as her interval times or landmarks along the route.
Eventually an investigation revealed that Ruiz had come out of the crowd near the finish and sprinted to “victory.”
After the story broke, a journalist from New York made it known that she had met Ruiz on the subway on the day of the New York City marathon and had walked with her to the finish area where Ruiz claimed to have been an injured runner and was escorted through the finish area and given a time, the very one which qualified her to run in Boston.
5. BEN JOHNSON
There have been many Olympians over the years to be disqualified for using banned substances (usually steroids) but most of the weightlifters or wrestlers or rowers are quickly forgotten.
No one, however, forgets Ben Johnson.
That’s what happens when you compete in the marquee event of the Olympic games, win in record time, get the medal dangled round your neck, get the title of “World’s Fastest Man” thrown on you, and then get caught in a post-race screening.
Johnson’s career and good name were ruined by the event, and the use of banned substances at the Olympics became a high priority concern for the IOC.
It was a bad day for all involved. Except maybe Carl Lewis, who got the gold after Johnson was disqualified.
6. LANCE ARMSTRONG
Lance Armstrong absolutely never cheated! He insisted upon this! He threatened those who accused him! Denied it at every turn! In every available medium!
Dude was a cancer-beating hero, and he finally reached his seemingly superhuman potential after the battle and a symbol of hope and perseverance.
The mere suggestion of any impropriety was untenable. Until the walls started crumbling around him and one day he decided to visit Oprah and reveal the worst kept secret in cycling: He was a cheat, a liar, a phony and a bully.
Aw, shit. Armstrong was stripped of his SEVEN Tour de France crowns, lost sponsors, lost buddies, lost a lot of people’s respect, and spoiled his legacy.
Because while he did actually beat cancer and raise a lot of money for cancer treatment and awareness, most folks are only ever going to remember that he was a world-class cheater.
7. SPANISH PARALYMPIC BASKETBALL TEAM
During the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney, the Spanish basketball team committed once of the most egregious acts of cheating ever–they won a competition for disabled athletes by using non-disabled athletes.
Beginning in Atlanta in 1996, the Paralympics created a division for athletes with intellectual disabilities—those with an IQ below 70. The Spanish gold-medal winning basketball team had 10 players who were not intellectually disabled and had been chosen to help Spain win more medals.
You can’t get more underhanded than that.
Intellectual disabilities sports have since been removed from the Paralympics as it is too difficult to determine if players truly have a mental deficiency. (There’s a joke there, but it wouldn’t be very PC now would it.)
What is clear is that the Spanish sports authorities have a moral deficiency.