5 Cheating Scandals from Recent Sports History
Tonya, Tonya, Tonya
Sports fans are reeling from the recent N.F.L. report that found members of the New England Patriots’ staff deflated balls to make them easier to grip in one of the games leading up to the Super Bowl--and that quarterback Tom Brady most likely knew about this cheater’s move. While the hubbub over public statements, punishments and rule changes goes on, let's take a moment to revisit some of the biggest cheating scandals in recent sports history.
Rosie Ruiz, 1980 Boston Marathon
This Cuban-born executive assistant came out of nowhere to beat the favorite and win the Boston Marathon’s women’s title in 1980. Trouble is, she wasn’t too sweaty afterward, she couldn’t remember key elements of the racecourse and she’d shaved an unheard-of 25 minutes off her New York City Marathon qualifying time. Turns out, she’d skipped parts of the race, both in Boston and New York, where she’d ridden the subway for part of the route.
Tonya Harding, 1994 Winter Olympics
A talented figure skater, Harding was one of few women to have ever landed a triple axle during competition, but she’s a household name for having been implicated in an attack on rival U.S. skater Nancy Kerrigan. Harding’s ex-husband and bodyguard hit Kerrigan in the knee, knocking her out of a competition that sent Harding to the Olympics. Harding later lost her titles and was banned for life from competition; she also was fined $160,000, ordered to complete 500 hours of community service and received three years of probation time.
Lance Armstrong, Tour de France, 1999 to 2005
The former professional cyclist and cancer survivor led his team, the U.S. Postal Service, to victory seven times in the world’s most prestigious road race. All the while, he vehemently denied persistent doping rumors, often suing his accusers. His web of lies came crashing down when he was stripped of his titles in 2012; he subsequently went on Oprah, confessed stiffly and is now wrangling not to repay a $10 million judgment to a sports promoter.
Dong Fangxiao, 2000 Summer Olympics
Dong Fangxiao was awarded the bronze at the Olympics and held on to her medal until she registered to be a technical official at the 2008 games. She slipped up when she gave her real birthdate on the application--revealing herself to have been two years too young to have competed in the ’00 Olympics. (You have to be 16 to compete safely in the international games.) She and her team were stripped of her medals, and Chinese fans blamed their government for the falsification.
United States versus the Soviet Union, 1972 Summer Olympics
In a move now widely chalked up to Cold War friction, the U.S. basketball team lost the gold by one point when the Soviet team scored in the final seconds of their Munich showdown. Trouble is, the Americans maintain the clock had been improperly moved back. The team refused to pick up its silver medals, and many players still hold a grudge: One even had his will rewritten to deny his descendants the right to accept measly second place.