Sporting acts of sabotage

On the back of nails causing 30 punctures in the 14th stage of the Tour de France overnight, we look at other instances where acts of sabotage have influenced a sporting contest.

Priest
Former Irish priest Cornelius Horan ruined the hopes of Olympic gold for marathon runner Vanderlei Lima at the 2004 Athens Olympics when he ran onto the course and tackled Lima to the ground. Lima was leading the race at the time with less than seven kilometres to go.

The Brazilian recovered only to finish with the bronze as Italian Stefano Baldini run past him for the victory. Lima later received the Pierre de Coubertin medal for sportsmanship.

It was the second time that Horan intruded on a sporting event after running on the track during the 2003 British Grand Prix waving banners saying "Read the bible" and "The Bible is always right".

Oil
The fourth test of the 1975 Ashes series was evenly poised heading into the final day with Australia needing 225 runs for victory with seven wickets in hand. A win would secure a series victory for the Aussies. However protestors for wrongfully convicted robber George Davis vandalised the pitch during the night by digging holes and pouring oil on it and the match was abandoned.

Australian opener Rick McCosker was on 95 not out and therefore robbed of a shot at his maiden test century, however he reached three figures in the final test at The Oval as Australia went onto win the series 1-0.

Metal baton
In the early 90s, two young women were clearly at the forefront of figure skating in the United States. Nancy Kerrigan enjoyed top spot - she was truly the darling of the crowds, with a winning smile to go with her grace and agility in the sport. Her rival was Tonya Harding. Harding was the first American woman to complete a triple-axel jump, and had placed second in the 1991 World Figure Skating Championships.

Just before the US Championships in 1994, Harding decided to take things into her own hands. Her ex-husband hired a goon called Shane Stant to knobble Kerrigan by smashing her kneecap with a metal baton after a practice session. Although Harding went on to win the event after Kerrigan pulled out, an investigation soon led to her disqualification and arrest.

Disgruntled employee
Finnish Formula One driver Mika Hakkinen was robbed of victory at the 2000 German Grand Prix when a disgruntled former Mercedes employee walked beside the track in protest with a banner which said, "Mercedes Benz, who knew about my health problems, offered me a job I could not do and then sacked me for physical ineptitude after 20 years service".

A safety car was called out onto the track which led to a string of pitstops and eventually Hakkinen slipping back to fifth.

Beach ball
A red beach ball was a candidate for man of the match in Sunderland's 1-0 win over Liverpool in 2009 after playing a major part in the game's only goal.

Sunderland striker Darren Bent fired a low shot on goal that deflected off the beach ball that was sitting inside the goal box, sending both balls past confused keeper Pepe Reina.

Sunderland held on for the victory.

- HERALD ONLINE

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