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Sport's top ten biggest cheats

SPORTS TALK BY JOSEPH ROMANOS
Last updated 10:17 15/10/2012

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OPINION: Now that American Lance Armstrong has been exposed as a lying, drug-taking con artist rather than a champion cyclist, I've been compiling a list of sport's greatest cheats.

Some, such as sprinter Florence Griffith Joyner, never got caught, so I've reluctantly omitted them.

To be eligible, the cheating needs to be more than merely a spontaneous act, such as Diego Maradona's ''hand of God'' goal against England at the 1986 Football World Cup. It needs to have been planned and had an impact on world sport.

My top 10:

1. East Germany
The East Germans produced fabulous sportswomen in the 1970s and 80s, swimmers Kornelia Ender and Kristin Otto and athletes Marita Koch and Renate Stecher among them. Once the Berlin wall came down and light was shed on the German methods, it was revealed there had been a systematic regime of government-funded drug-cheating.

2. China
The Chinese female swimmers and athletes in the 1990s were as tainted as their East German predecessors. Coach Ma Junren claimed his runners were obliterating world records by training on caterpillar fungus and turtle blood. Most suspected stronger drugs. Then leading Chinese swimmers began repeatedly failing drugs tests and the scale of cheating became clear.

3. Lance Armstrong
Not only did Armstrong win seven Tour de France crowns, but he made his reputation and fortune as a survivor of cancer who won by living clean. Instead he built an incredible drug-cheating regime that swallowed up other cyclists and tainted his sport.

4. Hanse Cronje
Cronje hasn't been cricket's only match-fixer, but he was the worst. The much-respected South African captain's fall from grace was total. Not only did he allow himself to be bribed, but he persuaded team-mates to as well, and cast a shadow over international cricket.

5. Ben Johnson
In 1988 Johnson won the Olympic 100m sprint, the ''race of the century'', but failed the drugs test. There followed the revealing Dubin inquiry, which should have led to an anti-drugs revolution, but didn't - too many officials continued to turn a blind eye. Six of the eight runners in the 1988 final were eventually exposed as drugs cheats.

6. Marie-Reine le Gougne
The 2002 Olympic figure skating gold medal should have gone to Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier ahead of their favoured Russian rivals. But the voting favoured the Russians 5-4. As expected, the Russian, Chinese, Polish and Ukrainian judges went for the Russian skaters, the American, Canadian, Japanese and German judges for the Canadians.  Frenchwoman Le Gougne, the ninth judge, was expected her to vote with the Westerners, but went for the Russians in return for France being awarded gold in the dance pairs. After that, no-one trusted subjective judging any more.

7. Park Si-Hun
The Korean light-middleweight boxer was lucky to even make the 1988 Olympic final against American Roy Jones. Jones dominated the final, recording 86 hits to 32 and imposing two standing counts. Staggeringly, the judges from Uganda, Uruguay and Morocco gave it to the Korean, who won a 3-2 decision. Judging methods were later changed to avoid such blatant corruption.

8. Spanish 2000 Paralympics basketballers

The Spaniards easily won the intellectual disability basketball gold medal. Then it was revealed only two of their 12 players had IQs below 75. Later testing showed similar Spanish cheating in table tennis, athletics and swimming.

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9. Nancy Kerrigan kneecapped
American figure skater Tonya Harding was desperate for success at the 1994 Winter Olympics. So was fellow American Nancy Kerrigan. The answer? A member of Harding's entourage smashed Kerrigan's knee during training. Kerrigan recovered and won the silver medal. Harding finished eighth.

10. The ''Black Sox'' scandal
The 1919 World Series baseball final pitted the Chicago White Sox against the Cincinnati Reds. The White Sox were overwhelming favourites but eight of their team, including the legendary Shoeless Joe Jackson, rigged the result.
That's my top 10, and I've not had room to include men who won Olympic gold competing as women, baseballers who achieved home run records bulked up on steroids, marathon winners who were driven most of the way and serial deniers such as athlete Marion Jones and cyclist Floyd Landis.
The world of cheating in sport is indeed full

- The Wellingtonian

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