Scandals in sport: The fix is in

By David Leggat

We list some of the sporting world's top scandals, scams, scandals and fit-ups - and the perpetrators weren't always caught

Chicago White Sox

The biggie. The White Sox were warm favourites to win the baseball's World Series against the Cincinnati Reds in 1919. But they were an unhappy bunch, underpaid by tightfisted owner Charles Comiskey and under-valued. So when Arnold Rothstein - New York gambler, gangster and bootlegger known as The Fixer, Mr Bankroll, The Man Uptown and The Brain - made contact and suggested money change hands in return for the right results, the game was on. The Sox lost 5-3 but eight players, including the legendary "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, were later banned for life, and the team henceforth became known as the Black Sox.

2: Roy Jones

Rated pound for pound the best boxer on the planet in his prime, Jones won a cluster of world titles and was named Fighter of the Decade in 1999 by the American Boxing Writers Association. But at the Seoul Olympics in 1988, Jones copped probably the worst miscarriage of Olympic ring justice in the final. Fighting local hope Park Si Hun, Jones landed 86 punches to 32, but the judges gave the decision to the hopelessly outclassed Park 3-2. The three judges who voted against Jones were eventually suspended.

The long-held assumption is money changed hands but the IOC still stands by the decision. The good part? It helped lead to a new scoring system for Olympic boxing.

3: Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan

"Skategate" involved American rival ice skaters vying for the top spot at the 1994 US championships and also had the good girl/bad girl element in the mix. Harding's ex-husband Jeff Gillooly hired a thug named Shane Stant to club Kerrigan on the knee at a practice session, forcing her out. Harding won the event. Moves to boot Harding off the Olympic team that year failed and she finished eighth at Lillehammer, Norway. Kerrigan was second. Gillooly then accepted a plea bargain in exchange for dobbing Harding in. She pleaded guilty to hindering the investigation and copped three years' probation, 500 hours' community service and a US$160,000 ($241,000) fine. Later banned for life, Harding had a brief career as a boxer and appeared in a porn video. She was only the second woman to perform the Everest of figure skating, the triple axel jump.

4: Ben Johnson

If you saw the race, dubbed the dirtiest 100m Olympic final ever - five of the eight finalists subsequently failing drug tests at various stages - there can be no doubt the muscular Canadian was pumped to his bulging eyeballs at Seoul in 1988. Johnson clocked a staggering 9.79s but was loaded with an anabolic steroid. The gold went to Carl Lewis, and there's a graphic image as Johnson is about to breast the tape. In the background Lewis is glancing across with a classic 'What the ... !' look on his face.

5: Austrian Grand Prix

Coming to the finish of the 2002 Formula One race at the A1 Ring, Brazilian Rubens Barrichello was leading his Ferrari teammate Michael Schumacher. But Schumacher was the team's No 1 and on the way to one of his seven world titles. So Barrichello got the word and had to bite his lip and follow team orders, easing aside to let the German pass in the final straight. Outrage ensued. Punters were livid, unless they'd backed Schumacher. Ferrari were unrepentant but driving to team orders has been outlawed - at least officially.

6: Bobby Moore

England's greatest soccer captain was arrested in Bogota, Colombia, en route to the 1970 finals in Mexico. He was suspected of pinching a £600 ($1580) emerald bracelet from a shop. All England was convinced it was a fit-up, and British Prime Minister Harold Wilson ensured diplomatic muscles were flexed to get Moore off. The charge was dropped but only after Moore had been held for three days.

7: Michelle Smith

The Irish swimmer appeared to come from nowhere to grab three golds - 200m and 400m individual medley and 400m freestyle - and a bronze at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. Her husband and coach, Dutch discus thrower Erik de Bruin, had done a four-year doping ban. Although Smith was banned in 1998 for four years by world governing body Fina, it was not for failing a doping test. Instead a routine urine test had become contaminated with whisky, which has never been explained. She lost an appeal at the Court of Arbitration, but the experience had an effect on her: she gained a law degree from University College Dublin.

8: Camp Staaldraad

The boot camp the Springbok squad was put through preparing for the 2003 World Cup by coach Rudolf Straeuli was a national scandal and made the rest of the rugby world roll its collective eyes. Pictures of naked South African players carrying railway tracks and tractor tyres and huddling in a freezing dam were all part of Straeuli's campaign to toughen his players up. Other highlights included fitness instructors smashing eggs on players' heads. Springbok manager Gideon Sam reckoned the exercise was "mild" compared to what many African people put up with every day. "The players looked like prisoners of war. I have no problem with it," he added. Needless to say, Straeuli was a goneburger straight after the cup, in which the Springboks lost in the quarter-finals to the All Blacks.

9: East German doping

In the space of four years, a country of fewer than 17 million people doubled its Olympic gold medal tally to 40. How? Buckets of drugs dispensed under state supervision and sponsorship. Suspicions were confirmed after the fall of the Berlin Wall as athletes - led to believe they were taking vitamins - showed up with liver cancer, hormonal and organ damage and infertility. In the 1970s and 1980s, East Germany rivalled the United States and the Soviet Union in medal success. They were strong in athletics and swimming in particular, where the likes of Cornelia Ender and Barbara Krause were dominant. Ender won four gold and four silver medals at the 1972 and 1976 Olympics, later revealing her injections began at 13. Another, Carola Nitschke, was 13 when she began getting testosterone jabs. In 1998, she became the first doped athlete to return her medals and ask that her name be removed from the record books. A German court found the East German sports boss Manfred Ewald and his medical director, Manfred Hoeppner, culpable for "systematic and overall doping in [East German] competitive sports" and gave them wet bus ticket jail sentences.

10: Fine Cotton

The most celebrated racing ring-in in Australasian equine history. In August 1984 at Brisbane's Eagle Farm course, an ordinary 8-year-old gelding, Fine Cotton, was replaced for a novice handicap by a horse called Bold Personality, complete with white paint on his legs in a crude attempt to match Fine Cotton's white markings on his hind legs. Officials smelt a rat when betting on Fine Cotton dived in from 33-1 to 7-2. The horse won by a short head, but with the paint beginning to run down the horse's legs as it returned to scale and some onlookers shouting "ring-in" the game was up. New Zealand trainer Hayden Haitana shot through shortly after the race, only to be nabbed by police in South Australia and subsequently jailed along with scam organiser John Gillespie. But it involved some of Australia's big racing names, and prominent bookmakers Bill and Robbie Waterhouse were warned off the country's tracks for 14 years. And Fine Cotton? Now 30, he's believed living in retirement on the outskirts of Brisbane.

 

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